Forced Evictions - A children's rights issue
Forced evictions have been, and continue to be a routine practice among states and other actors in the international community. The practice is often initiated by a desire to acquire wealth, and a policy of zero tolerance is regularly adopted by actors to remove any obstacles and ensure their aims and objectives are fully realised. In so doing, the lives of many in the global community are habitually ruined, and the destruction of entire cultures and livelihoods frequently occurs in brutal fashion. To name but a few, the cases of Zimbabwe’s Operation Murambatsvina, Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province, and the Roma population of Serbia bear testimony to the adverse effects of forced evictions.
Forced evictions constitute serious violation of various universally recognised human rights, such as the right to adequate housing, security of person, food and water. The subsequent impacts on the lives of children illustrate that forced evictions is indeed a ‘children’s rights’ issue which needs to be rigorously addressed in order to protect the rights of millions of children around the world. The destruction of homes and loss of livelihoods resulting from forced evictions places children in extremely vulnerable situations leaving them susceptible to further violations and abuses. This is in addition to the emotional and psychological trauma of having to witness such atrocities first-hand.
The loss of livelihood and severe hardships which many families are forced to endure, often results in their inability to provide adequate housing, food and clean water supplies for their children. The United Nations News Centre highlights the fact that various studies conducted, indicate that the denial of basic human rights such as the right to clean water, results in the annual death of approximately 1.5 million children under the age of five. Furthermore, the violation of these rights subsequently impedes a child’s right to education and prevents them from reaching their full potential, as an estimated “…443 million school days are lost because of water and sanitation issues” (Ibid).
Forced evictions further denies children the right to be free from neglect as some parents are often killed during anti-forced eviction protests, or die from ill health due to the effects of being expelled from their habitat and forced to live in squalor. This renders many children destitute orphans, leaving them to fend for themselves and at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals. They effectively become street children who are marginalised and face social exclusion, and whose rights are regularly ignored or denied by society in general. Such situations increase the risks of children being victims of child abduction and child trafficking throughout various regions of the world, for purposes of slavery, child prostitution, use as child soldiers and other inhumane practices.
It is thus imperative that forced evictions are recognised as a child’s right issue and maximum effort be exerted to enhance an increase in global awareness of the plight of affected children. Further, more stringent measures need to be adopted by states to respect the human rights of children and promote the principle of universal brotherhood, making forced evictions a thing of the past.
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