Protests mar UN Habitat forum

A group of delegates at the UN Habitat conference in Nairobi disrupted the opening ceremony to express their disapproval at the removal of Mrs Anna Tibaijuka (pictured) as the head of the United Nations Office in Nairobi. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • Delegates up in arms over removal of former boss, Tibaijuka, and vow to petition agency

The opening ceremony of a UN Habitat conference in Nairobi was briefly disrupted on Monday when a group of delegates protested at the removal of Mrs Anna Tibaijuka as the head of the United Nations Office in Nairobi.

The placard waving delegates, most of whom were women, marched to the podium where Mrs Tibaijuka together with other dignitaries including Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and the new Director General Mr Achim Steiner sat.

It however took the quick intervention of a security officer, who quickly grabbed the placard and ordered the women delegates back to their seats. Later, some of the women told the Nation that they would push for the reinstatement of Mrs Tibaijuka, since the process of her removal was not fair.

“We are indeed not happy with the way Mrs Tibaijuka was replaced,” said a delegate from West Africa.

“We are coming up with a petition, which will hopefully be presented to the President of the UN Habitat Governing Council, Mr Michael Werikhe, this afternoon (Monday),” she added.

Speaking at the meeting, Mrs Tibaijuka asked developing countries to come up with properly regulated housing finance systems to eliminate slums.

The recent financial downturn which was sparked off by a mortgage crisis in the US, she said, should teach governments that the provision of an appropriate and affordable housing finance has to be part and parcel of their responsibilities. Affordable housing

“Sadly, there has been a systematic neglect of properly regulated affordable housing finance schemes by countries in the developing world,” said Mrs Tibaijuka.

Her sentiments were echoed by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who enumerated steps Kenya was taking to provide adequate housing especially to the poor.

Mr Musyoka said through the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme, the government intended to provide proper shelter to five million people living in slums in the next 13 years. This process will cost the government an estimated Sh880 billion.

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