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Adequate housing

Expert: Home destructions during conflict are an international crime

04 November 2022

Locals walk past a residential building that was damaged during shelling in the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, 25 May 2022. © EPA-EFE/SERGEY KOZLOV

“We should stop shutting our eyes to widespread or systematic destruction of civilian homes in conflict. We need to stop what must be called: domicide,” said Balakrishnan Rajagopal, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.

Rajagopal made this statement during a presentation of his report to the UN General Assembly. He said that conflicts, where civilian homes are deliberated targeted have left millions displaced and have resulted in the most severe housing rights violations.

“The attacking, bombing and shelling of civilian targets and the destruction of entire cities and villages – displacing millions into homelessness – have continued unabated despite the development of modern human rights and humanitarian law,” Rajagopal said.

Rajagopal called on the international community to recognize, such severe violations of international law as “domicide” – a distinct crime under international criminal law.

“I have seen how in a few seconds a home, the culmination of a life-long effort, the pride of entire families, is wiped out and turned into rubble, he said. “Destroyed is not only a home. Destroyed are the savings of entire families; destroyed are memories; destroyed is the comfort of belonging. Domicide causes social and psychological trauma that is difficult for me to describe or even to imagine.”

This past year has seen a record number of people who have been displaced as a result of armed conflict, surpassing the numbers of the post-World War II period, the report states.

“More than 100 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order,” Rajagopal said. “Propelled by new waves of violence or protracted conflict around the globe.”

“We must not tolerate that those are responsible for such egregious crimes continue in positions of power,” he continued. “They must face international justice.”

Learn more about “domicide” and why it should be classified as an international crime in the video below.