This week, WITNESS, and other land and housing rights organizations, signed a public statement demanding a stop to the planned forced eviction of thousands in Ghana’s capital city Accra. The signature campaign was organized here at the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal.
The communities living along the railway were told on 21 January to leave their homes to make way for the redevelopment of the country’s railway system planned for February. It was reported that the forced eviction possibly occurring this week would affect as many as 25,000 people.
Many of the Railway Dwellers have lived along the railway more than 17 years. Without the authorities properly consulting with the Railway Dwellers or even adequately counting their numbers, a forced eviction will only leave the communities homeless and impoverished.
I spoke with Frederick Opoku from the organization, Women in Slums Economic Empowerment – Ghana (WISEEP-GH), about this campaign and how the World Social Forum was used as a platform for action.
It seems like the trending issue here at the World Social Forum, Dakar is housing and land rights. My colleague Priscila also recognized this predominance at the Americas Social Forum in September 2010.
It must be said that the World Social Forum has had erratic access to schedules and designated places for meetings. Despite virtually all attendees battling scheduling and logistics problems, the upside has been organizations (at least those addressing housing and land rights) merging meetings and strategy sessions in solidarity. Once separate meetings have become collective and perhaps even more open to other movements.
WISEEP-GH and others have used the World Social Forum platform, not only to gather signatures against the forced eviction in Accra, but also to demonstrate at the Embassy of Ghana in Dakar. The demonstration on 7 February to stop the forced evictions in Accra led to a face-to-face meeting with the Ambassador on 9 February. The protest was lively and loud – and globally represented – as recorded here by the International Alliance of Inhabitants.
Urgent action needed
The forced eviction could happen any day.
Besides issuing the public statement this week, Amnesty International also has gathered tens of thousands of individual signatures for this campaign.
Now, before 12 February, add your voice by joining Amnesty International’s call to the Government of Ghana to stop the forced eviction of the Railway Dwellers and place a moratorium on all other forced evictions until adequate safeguards can be implemented.