The Urban Social Forum opens in Naples with a field visit from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing


Naples gave a warm welcome to the second Urban Social Forum (USF). While UN-Habitat neglected to include such vital issues as eviction from the agenda of their World Urban Forum (WUF 6), the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing (who has an independent mandate which is much more aligned to the reality of the people than that of UN-Habitat) accompanied a USF delegation to the popular neighbourhood Scampia. The visit included a meeting with local social organizations and with inhabitants from the Giugliano Roma settlement camp, who have been threatened with an eviction order scheduled for 7 September. The denounciations of violations gathered in Naples as well as other places throughout Italy has lead the country to make the list of countries that the Rapporteur will make official missions to during the next year.

The civil society organization Anticamorra Resistance has been operating since 2011 in the municipal office of Scampia to offer employment alternatives to youth and to encourage anonymous denunciations of violations from the nearly 60,000 inhabitants who live in the area. Official figures show that nearly 60,000 inhabitants live in the area, however the local organizations place that figure around 80,000 when considering those who are not included in the census, however only about 9 denunciations are made per month. A representative of one local organization stated that when the population begins to trust the denunciation process “the Camorra realizes that they no longer own the area”.

The GRIDAS Association (Group of those Awakened from a Dream) has been operating in the area since 1969 they explained the long and complex history of Scampia. When inhabitants were expelled from the city center in the post-war era, they moved to the Vele housing complex in Scampia during the 1970s, despite not having access to basic services. An earthquake in 1980 caused further insecurity and a lack of funds provided for reconstruction saw the rise of the Camorra influence in the area which has lasted until recent times. Vele is now under threat of being destroyed, under the argument that the drug trade has caused the neighbourhood to have the highest level of delinquency. According to the Committee established to consider the destruction of Vele, the only solution to these problems is to first destroy the “special prison cells where the proletariat were sent to live in order to remove them from the city centre”, then follow with the relocation of inhabitants to new houses, and lastly to transform the zone to an arts and crafts fair. The Committee emphasized the contradiction made by the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, who was in agreement with this proposal at the beginning of his mandate, but has now reverted to discussing restructuring.

In the Giugliano gypsy camp, the USF delegation and the Rapporteur witnessed the terrible living conditions where more than 650 people live without water and other basic services. The eviction order scheduled for 7 September should be considered illegal as it violates the general comments made in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by Italy, which prohibits evictions when adequate alternative housing is not provided. These violations affect the large majority of approximately 17,000 Roma living in Italy. Given the grave violations of the right to housing that were apparent during the visit, as well as the testimonies of violations that are being presented in the debates at the USF, the Rapporteur affirmed the need to conduct an official mission to Italy and she will soon send a list of official recommendations to the Italian government with respect to these human rights violations.

The following is a list of events registered under the USF, which will continue in the Asilo ex Filangieri (vico Maffei, 4) until Friday September 7:
  • Launch of the AITEC publication “Time to Evict the Crisis”
  • Urban transformation, crisis, and resistance
  • Cooperativism and social housing
  • Film: “Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits”
  • Mobilization against land grabbing and evictions of the barracopolis: Defending land as a common good or a new political strategy
  • Land: Comunal Housing
  • Debate: Rethinking the city, the right to inhabit: Sustainability, democracy, equality and social justice
  • Film: “Dear Mandela”
  • Movements and institutions: Antagonist subjects or subscribers to a new deal
  • Presentation of two participatory instruments: A world map of inhabitants’ movements and an online Citego database

 Click here for the original text in Italian.

For further information, please contact the USF Organizing Committee:
Tel: 320-236-3156 / 333-357-6348