A Continuing Pandemic of Violations
On World Habitat Day 2020, the regular HLRN report from the Violation Database (VDB) revealed a staggering number of some 10 million persons undergoing eviction and/or home demolitions during the COVID-19 pandemic until that date (5 October 2021).
That count included cases that range in the number of victims from millions at a time (e.g., Shandong villages, China) to 35 cases entered form reliable media reports without mentioning any number of persons affected. One of the lessons learned from managing the VDB is how standard monitoring and reporting often omits such data. The actual numbers of those additional reported cases remain a matter of speculation, as are the silent victims in untold number of cases that go unreported.
Such tales of gross violations of human rights take on a greater shock value during the current pandemic. The contradiction appears even clearer in light of the numerous calls to refrain from evictions amid the double public-health and economic crisis, including official measures to protect tenants from procedural evictions, let alone internationally prohibited forced evictions.
In addition to these cases monitored during the pandemic until October 2020, some of which are ongoing campaigns, entries in the VDB indicate that this trend is not waning. In fact, many of the evictions bans and moratoria have been extended into the New Year. However, in the past months since World Habitat Day, HLRN has captured 14 cases in the VDB, resulting in nearly 10 thousand known victims. These cases demonstrate continuous patterns of victimizing the urban poor, in general, with punitive and discriminatory patterns of forced eviction, destruction and dispossession targeting Roma, Palestinians and rural people with precarious tenure.