SEND GHANA condemns demolition of Old Fadama amidst COVID-19 pandemic

SEND GHANA, a Subsidiary of SEND Foundation West Africa, has condemned what it described as “unwarranted and ill-timed” demolition of Old Fadama by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).

According to SEND GHANA, the ruthless demolition exercise, which happened on April 15, to pave way for the annual ritual of dredging the Korle Lagoon, did not only render over 1,000 slum dwellers homeless, but also exposed the inhabitants including women and children to the risk of being infected by the novel coronavirus.

This is contained in a press statement signed by Mr George Osei-Akoto Bimpeh, Country Director of SEND GHANA, and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa.

“To undertake such exercise at a time that a section of the settlement had been razed down by fire, and at the height of a pandemic, without assessing its ramifications on the vulnerable citizens is most reprehensible and demonstrates government’s insensitivity to the plight of the people,” said the statement.

“We believe without any shred of doubt, that the way and manner the demolition exercise was carried out, constitute an infringement on the affected citizens’ right to housing, and in particular, non-compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).”

It pointed out that Article 11 of the Convention stated in part that “States Parties to the present covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing, and housing”.

The statement noted that on the basis of the declaration, Ghana as a state party had allegedly refused to take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right for the affected people.

The statement further emphasized that part of the measures outlined by the government in combating the spread of the deadly coronavirus was the directive for people to observe social distancing and stay at home, especially those living in the affected areas where the partial lockdown was being enforced.

It questioned how the central government expected people, who by the action of AMA had become ‘homeless’ to stay at home in compliance with the lockdown rules?

Again, it questioned how could such distraught people observe basic hygienic rules required to avoid infection by the coronavirus?

Furthermore, the statement questioned that was it not a clear defiance of logic that the very vulnerable citizens that the government claimed to be protecting in this moment of crisis were the same people whose rights have been violated and their dignity severely injured by the action of a local government?

“SEND GHANA is aware of the perennial flooding that usually plagues the area and other parts of Accra as a result of illegal structures put on waterways, and therefore appreciates the government’s effort in working proactively to avert the situation”.

“However, the timing of the demolition exercise is wrong and had been carried out without a human face,” the statement noted, whilst pointing out that to render people homeless during a lockdown occasioned by a global pandemic was unnecessary and could have been avoided.

“We, therefore, wish to add our voice to the many views already expressed by well-meaning Ghanaians and human rights advocates, including Amnesty International Ghana, in calling on the government to immediately halt any further demolition exercise until we stem the tide in our collective efforts to defeating COVID-19,” it said.

The statement again called on the government to immediately arrange for temporary accommodation facilities to relocate those affected by the demolition to guarantee their safety and protect their human dignity.

Source: GNA

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