Afghanistan's poor losing homes: UN report
CBC News, April 11, 2004
GENEVA - Thousands of people are being evicted from their homes by warlords, politicians and land speculators, according to a report prepared for the United Nations.
Miloon Kothari, a UN expert on housing rights, says the victims are rarely compensated after they are displaced. Land grabbing goes on throughout Afghanistan, he says, and it's sometimes accompanied by violence.
Kothari says government ministers as well as criminals are engaged in illegal land deals. The situation will get worse if the transitional government doesn't crack down on these transactions, he warns.
The UN's special envoy on the right to adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, said on Thursday he had spoken to people whose houses had been destroyed in Kabul's Shir Pur district to make way for new homes for ministers.
In addition to Marshal Fahim, he named the Education Minister, Yunis Qanooni, and said he had a list of others.
"A number of ministers... including the minister of defence are directly involved in this kind of occupation and dispossession of poor people, some of whom have been there for 25 to 30 years."
BBC, 12 September, 2003
Commanders, drug lords and others have "a sense of impunity in the country, which there has been in there, in fact, since the formation of this transitional government," Kothari charges.
He says his investigation has found evidence that drug cartels in Afghanistan are using property investments to launder huge sums of money stemming from the heroin trade.
Land speculators, says the report, have driven prices up to astronomical levels, resulting in an acute shortage of affordable housing, especially for returning refugees, most of whom are women and children.
This isn't the first time the UN housing envoy has raised the issue. Last September, he accused the defence minister and others in government of grabbing land from the poor and called for their removal from office.
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