Hundreds of homeless people returned to the streets of Colombia’s second largest city after apparently being removed by authorities to leave a good impression while the city was hosting the UN’s World Urban Forum last week.
The homeless urban dwellers, equipped with self-made tents, massively flocked to the area below the Museum of Antioquia where in the weeks before the World Urban Forum clashes occurred with riot police who were allegedly trying to remove the homeless people from parts of the city where they could be seen by visitors of the UN meeting.
According to local newspaper El Colombiano, the mass return of the displaced homeless people caused chaos on the lower end of the city’s downtown area as the homeless refused to enter homeless shelters where only days before the forum a bomb exploded amid tensions between homeless and police.
Instead, hundreds of homeless have set up camp on the streets after their mysterious return.
Newspaper El Espectador reported that several Medellin residents had claimed the homeless did not just disappear from the streets, but that the shelters in the central area of the city also remained empty while the city was hosting the World Urban Forum.
One homeless man told Caracol Radio, local police had carried out armed offensives to push the homeless Medellin away from where visitors to the UN forum would be able to see them.
“The authorities come without prior warning, shooting stun guns against those on this side … herding them from one end to another and making them run. Those who didn’t run were put in trucks” and taken away to an unknown destination, another man told television station Caracol.
Another homeless man told El Colombiano that armed militias had told them to stay away from specific areas.
The Medellin police department admitted that police actions related to the managing of the city’s massive homeless population did not go as planned.
“We have carried out very specific actions focused on and prioritizing the center of the city of Medellin. This generated a different and disperse impact [than anticipated] relates to the exposure of the street dwellers,” Coronel Erick Rivas told El Espectador.
There are approximately 4000 homeless people in Medellin, according to the city hall.
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