Although the situation of homeless in Rio de Janeiro is acknowledged as an issue that needs to be addressed, the local government still lacks a consistent and integrated policy to respond to their needs.
"For all this time, we have been trying hard to work with the authorities in order to create an integrated and sustainable policy to address the issue of street people, and there has recently been some willingness to cooperate," explained Susana de Deus, MSF Head of Mission in Rio de Janeiro.
"However, at the same time, due to a complete lack of integration between different departments within the same government, these cleaning operations continue to happen. Depriving these people of the few things they possess should be condemned as a strong violation of their rights."
Over the past years, in the lead-up to events, such as Carnival, that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists and immense international attention, the cleaning operations have intensified.
"In the absence of a sustainable solution for the situation of the homeless, these actions are a way of hiding Rio's problems away from tourists and preserving the city's image," said de Deus. "Besides collecting their belongings, which are considered to be garbage, some actions force these people out of the streets into precarious and overcrowded shelters."
Following the recent cleaning operations, MSF has sent a letter to the local authorities as well as to the government human rights commissions, asking that they stop these operations. In the letters, MSF "condemns violent acts perpetrated by public institutions against the population, and appeals to the Mayor and the Governor of Rio de Janeiro to stop these brutal actions".
© Fabrizia Granatieri
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"...we have been trying hard to work with the authorities in order to create an integrated and sustainable policy to address the issue of street people, and there has recently been some willingness to cooperate," said Susana de Deus, MSF Head of Mission in Rio de Janeiro