COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, has called for urgent action to tackle Belfast’s housing crisis after meeting residents and families in housing distress in north Belfast.
Koulla’s comments followed a visit by members of a UN Task Force to Northern Ireland to assess children’s rights in a number of areas.
“I was disturbed and distressed to find so many families living in unsuitable accommodation,” said the Commissioner. “Too many children are living in conditions that are not suitable and are not appropriate.
“Levels of homelessness and families living in hostels should not be happening in Northern Ireland in 2015.”
Koulla accompanied a United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child Task Force member on the visit to north Belfast’s Seven Towers complex, where they met several families.
“It is apparent that too many residents in the area are not receiving equal access to housing,” she said. “It must not be about where you live, it’s about a child’s right to safe, appropriate housing, that provides access to services and access to safe play.
“Too many children are being denied these rights. We need urgent action to provide adequate housing, eradication of homelessness and a strategic vision to meet the housing needs for every family in Belfast no matter where they live or their background.
“There have been a series of international recommendations from the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights which have clearly called for additional efforts to overcome inequalities in housing in North Belfast – these recommendations can no longer be ignored and must become a reality.” she continued.
The Commissioner said she will be monitoring the situation and liaising with local groups and statutory authorities.
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