Government should act on homelessness in Portugal “immediately”, says UN rep

UN ‘rapporteur’ Leilani Farha gave a press conference this week on the “deplorable” conditions she found on a fact-finding tour of poor Portuguese neighbourhoods.

The executive director of NGO ‘Canada without Poverty’ was here to assess the impact of the crisis on housing.

What she saw in Porto, Lisbon and surrounding areas left her “destroyed”, she told Público.

“I met people who told me they felt the government treats them like animals. People who are afraid of losing their children to the authorities because of the inadequate housing conditions in which they live. All these stories affect me because I want to live in a world where everyone lives with dignity”.

Highlighting an issue that has relevance for the Algarve – where island families of Ria Formosa have been thrown out of homes to end up sleeping rough – she said: “Demolishing houses when people have nowhere to go is a violation of the right to adequate housing”.

The government “should intervene immediately”, she said – stressing that the worst-affected appear to be gypsies and people of African descent, either living homeless or in shanty towns, like the infamous “ilhas de Porto”.

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