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Habitat_Debate_13_3_-urb_safety-07[1] - September 2007 Vol...

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A look at Global Migration Problems U N I T E D N A T I O N S H U M A N S E T T L E M E N T S P R O G R A M M E In this issue: Governance and crime ......... 4 Crime prevention ................. 7 Women's safety ................... 9 21st century slavery ............... 10 Nobel Laureate Tutu ............. 14 Hong Kong safest city ........ 18 Habitat Debate September 2007 • Vol. 13, No. 3 A safe city is a just city
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± Habitat Debate September 2007 U rban crime and violence are at the top of the agenda for many people living in cities. Ask any woman: crime, in its var- ious forms, is their number one concern, particularly those who live in the poorest neighbourhoods. In the decade since UN-HABITAT started its Safer Cities Programme, we have noticed that cities around the world are becoming more aware of this bane of our daily lives. As a result, local governments are now taking up the challenge of urban safety and security. We live in an unaccepta- bly violent world. And this why we have chosen the theme, A safe city is a just city , to mark the occasion of World Habitat Day on 1 October this year. Indeed, as we reflect on these words, in every slum in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and in most cities around the world, some- one is being assaulted, a woman is be- ing raped, countless homes are being burgled and vehicles hijacked. Not even children are spared. Why? To an extent, we do know why: an estimated 1 billion people are living in slums, the vast majority of whom make up the urban poor. They suffer high lev- els of unemployment, live in overcrowd- ed conditions often without access to water and sanitation and security of ten- ure. They form part of the growing vic- tims of the urbanisation of poverty and deprivation and suffer from all forms of social exclusion. UN-HABITAT re- search tells us that the number of slum dwellers is growing rapidly, and that half are under the age of 25 and 40 per- cent of them are under 19. These are the primary victims of poverty and despair. Despite this potentially explosive situa- tion, the problems of urban youth living in poverty are largely absent in urban and national policies and strategies. These facts and figures explain in part why young people living in urban areas are so vulnerable to unwanted pregnan- cies, early marriages, prostitution, drug abuse, crime, and AIDS. Deprivation leads to desperation – the root cause of anti-social behaviour. That is why we must invest in young people and con- sult them in actions and decisions af- fecting their livelihoods. Again, ask any woman: in cities around the world, social capital is lost because public spaces get taken over by gangs or are abandoned because of fear. As private guards and vigilante groups take over the protection of our lives and assets, the State is increasingly perceived to be in tactical retreat, unable to tackle the root causes of crime and disorder.
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Habitat_Debate_13_3_-urb_safety-07[1] - September 2007 Vol...

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