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[Published: Tuesday June 09 2009]

Kenya's slum dwellers a time bomb-Amnesty chief


Nairobi, 09 June-(ANA)-Millions of people living in Kenya's slums are denied vital services and live under threat of harassment and forced eviction, posing a major threat to the country's security, Amnesty International's top official has said.


Kenya's capital hosts Africa's biggest slum, Kibera. An estimated two million people live in Kibera, a slum called Mathare and other sprawling settlements in and around Nairobi.


"The development of slums in urban areas has become the iconic symbol of the forgotten marginalised people -- excluded not only from basic services like sanitation but also from the decision-making that takes place even about their own lives," Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan said.


"Places like Kibera are ticking time bombs. We see young people unemployed in desperate conditions and they have no stake in creating stable society," Khan told Reuters during a visit to a part of Kibera known as Soweto.


Sewage runs though ditches while pathways are littered with animal waste, garbage and human waste. Overcrowding in Kibera is a huge problem and more than 800,000 people live on 250 hectares.


Kenya was convulsed by ethnic violence after President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election in December 2007, largely pitting supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga against backers of Kibaki and the police.


Both Kibera and Mathare became battle grounds during the post election violence that killed at least 1,300 people in east Africa's biggest economy.


Millions of dollars have been spent on government projects to upgrade the slums but there is little to show for it on the ground, said Khan. (ANA)

FA/ANA/09 June 2009---




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