Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Last week there were forced evictions and demolitions in Korail, the large slum opposite the HQ of the huge non-governmental organization BRAC, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. People have been left without shelter, water or food and many had no advance warning. Apparently schools are among the buildings demolished and, unsurprisingly, amid the disruption, children have missed school and exams. Two children are said to have been killed when their house was destroyed. BRAC staff give their perspectives here and here, and an official reaction here.
There was peaceful demonstration on the day following the evictions. “Without relocation, slum will not disappear,” the signs said, “Don’t destroy schools, mosques, and madrassas.” (source)
Korail is one of the areas I studied in 2008 and 2009. It was not the worst slum I saw in terms of either living conditions, poverty or education. It gets severely flooded in the rainy season and access to water, toilets and cooking facilities was limited. But it was also – as these researchers who lived there for several months comment – a vibrant place with some sense of community. As they also say, resettlement schemes rarely help the urban poor. Urban low-income groups are the engine of the city's (and the country's) economy, but are criminalized every time they seek shelter or basic services. These demolitions highlight the lack of a humane and coherent policy.

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