May 28th 2017

World / East Africa

Rights body fingers government in Addis rubbish dump deaths

The Ethiopian government is fully responsible for this totally preventable disaster. It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless. It also let hundreds of people continue to live in close proximity to it”.

By David JagongoWednesday, 15 Mar 2017 09:53 EAT

The death of more than 60 people in a landslide at a vast rubbish dump on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital over the weekend is a clear case of dereliction of duty by the Ethiopian authorities, said Amnesty International today. Dozens are still missing since the landslide at the 36-hectare Repi municipal dumpsite in Addis Ababa on 11 March, and many families have been left homeless after their makeshift houses were buried under tonnes of waste.

To Kenyans, the Addis tragedy should be a wake call to Kenyan authorities, especially the Nairobi County Government, to move with speed and relocate the City's Dandora Dumpsite. Like Addis, the Dandora rubbish dump is a landfill which filled up many years ago and poses health risk to the resident of the heavily populated Dandora Estate.

The rubbish dump reflects the Kenyan capital of 3.3 million  people in extremely bad light as Nairobi houses the headquarters of two key UN agencies- UN Habitat, the UN human settlement arm and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

And Amnesty International Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Muthoni Wanyeki did not have kind words foe Ethiopian authorities: “The Ethiopian government is fully responsible for this totally preventable disaster. It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless. It also let hundreds of people continue to live in close proximity to it”.

“These people, including many women and children, had no option but to live and work in such a hazardous environment because of the government’s failure to protect their right to adequate housing, and decent work."

Now in its fifth decade, Repi – also known as Koshe, which means “dust” - is the oldest landfill in Addis Ababa, a city of more than 3.6 million people. More than 150 people were at the site when the landslide happened. Many of them had been scavenging items for sale while others lived there permanently, in unsafe makeshift housing.

“The government must do everything in its power to account for all those who are missing, provide survivors with adequate alternative housing, and safe and healthy working conditions”. “It must also ensure that a full-fledged inquiry is held to determine the specific causes of the landslide, and hold the individual officials responsible to account.”

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