Kenyan demolition of homeless city angers church
A Catholic priest and church community activists working with thousands of slum dwellers in Nairobi have expressed dismay and concern at the way Kenyan authorities have demolished their homes without adequate alternative provision.
According to Catholic Information Service Africa (CISA) and Independent Catholic News UK, more than 5000 people, mostly women and children, are now homeless after police and city council guards removed their houses at the Deep Sea in Consolata Shrine, Westlands, Nairobi.
In a move which will be compared with the internationally condemned clearances in Zimbabwe, residents say that the heavily-armed personnel raided the slum dwellings at around 01:30 on Saturday morning.
They then ordered everybody to leave their houses before pulling down the structures using bulldozers.
"Our pleas to them to let us take out our belongings fell on deaf ears. They said they were working on orders from the provincial commissioner and they would not leave until every structure had been demolished," explained Phillip Ingosi, a local resident.
Fr Franco Cellana IMC, a Consolata missionary who has been working with communities in the area for several years, expressed dismay over the demolition.
"We did not create the slumÖ [W]e have only been trying to improve the lives of slum dwellers," commented an evidently emotional Fr Cellana.
Consolata Shrine has had community projects in Deep Sea since Easter 2000. Consolata Missionaries, working with two Italian NGOs, Africa Rafiki and Africa Sea, have built water and sewerage system, a health centre and have started several income generating projects there.
According to Jared Wachira, chairperson of the Consolata Shrine Charity Committee, it is unjust that the government has ordered the demolition of so many residential houses without organising for alternative accommodation for those affected.
He told CISA that leaving young children hungry and in the cold for several nights is an inhuman act, especially as no notice had been given to residents about the impending demolition
The Catholic parish is now seeking alternative means to resettle the victims and provide them with basic amenities.