Saudi Arabia urged to halt neighbourhood demolition

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Leilani Farha, Special rapporteur on adequate housing, one of three UN Human Rights Council appointed independent experts to appeal to Saudi Arabia. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré.

Three UN rights experts have joined forces to urge Saudi Arabia to halt the demolition of an historic neighbourhood that's home to at least 2,000 people.

In their appeal, the Special Rapporteurs say that the centuries-old walled area in the village of Awamia has unique heritage.

They add that residents have been put under pressure to move without adequate alternative housing or compensation.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The 400-year-old walled neighbourhood in Awamia village – in Saudi Arabia's east – has mosques, farms and markets, places of worship for Shia Hussainiyat followers and businesses.

Its imminent destruction is part of a wider redevelopment plan which does not include housing, the trio of UN Special Rapporteurs say.

Karima Bennoune, Leilani Farha and Philip Alston add that the project would "erase…unique regional heritage" too.

In their appeal to the Saudi authorities, the rights experts – who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in an independent capacity – state that residents have faced power cuts and other measures to pressure them to leave their homes.

At best residents have been left with insufficient compensation and at worst with nowhere to go, Ms Farha – Special Rapporteur on adequate housing – says in the written statement.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 0’48″


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