Saturday, October 08, 2005

Squatter Demolitions in Sudan

The government of Khartoum embarks on regular "replanning operations" to drive squatters and refugees from the war-torn southern region out of the capital. Last December, police destroyed a squatter encampment close to the city and relocated 12,000 people to a desolate desert 55 km out of town. In August, after some families moved back, police again destroyed their homes. "This is the sixth time that my house has been destroyed since the late nineties," a woman who declined to be named told IRIN News. "I lost everything apart from some clothes." Estimates are that in the past two years, 300,000 people have been forced out of Khartoum through these violent evictions.


Bryan Finoki said...

seeing that in Zimbab right now, just as some street vendors and people evicted from the first devastating operation start to try and come back or just resettle, the police follow them around and demolish anything new they try to build. they are banished to urban hiding.

In Sudan, those evicted squatters end up with other war-torn refugees and then those refugee camps are haunted by bandits, and the UN says we gotta do better at protecting them, it's really just a big old nasty recidivism of squatter/refugee urbanism, countries half-defined by UN occupation playing hot potato with their responsbilities, a new sad global population of lost-citizenships perpetually hovering over some border between nomadicism and immigration, chronic evictions and incarceration, and the lingering last hopes of asylum-seeking limbomania.

then there is the dumping of hundreds of Afircan immigrants into the Algerian desert without food or water after being shot trying to hope the fence into Spain before the fortress walls get bigger and bigger.

sorry, i am really just reading and trying to learn and this news just sets me off.

rn said...


Don't be sorry for being outraged. The way squatters (and refugees and asylum-seekers) are treated should set you off.

Your comment about "a new sad global population of lost-citizenships" gets it exactly right.

This is the major problem: squatters are not full citizens in their countries. No amount of aid, debt relief, or well-intentioned concerts by rock stars will change this.

Mobilization can. But squatters have a hard time mobilizing when they are continually pushed from one place to another and are forced into that "border between nomadicism and immgration, chornic evictions and incarceration."

--creating strong guarantees that squatters will not be arbitrarily evicted, and
--developing some effective ways for squatters to engage in and control their own politics

These are the principles of global progress.

Bryan Finoki said...

hey Robert

It's sad but i believe you that the UN role is really rather secondary to the mobilization of squatters, but does the UN have a real policy framework/outline for how local governments should deal with squatters besides the new Millineum global poverty goals?

the first problem though is the perpetual stigma overhanging squatters. how do we convince local governments, as well as the general public that squatters are not scourge and urban poverty and crime and disease, but rather a great source of innovation, guardians of true community design, a huge potential economic potential, that if we invest in squatter communities they are capable of raising truly beneficial communities not just for themselves but for the greater community at large. just getting people to first view them as human beings seems the greatest threat right now to their well being.

i am curious though of other writers like yourself i can check out to gain more history, and policy survey of how differently governments have and should extend rights to squatters. i have been looking at Manuel Castells, Ananada Roy, Mike Davis, Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santos, Hernando de Soto, what other critical reads should I investigate.

if you'd rather keep this going over email, bfunk2000(at)yahoo(dot)com.

thanks a lot!

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