Housing activist squatters run shelter for homeless in Congo embassy

After eviction group vows to 'pop up like mushrooms' in next premises

Friday, 19th January 2018 — By Robbie Harb


Squatters talk to the council enforcement officers 

A GROUP of squatters occupying a part of the Congolese Embassy have been evicted, after a court case found against them.

The squatters, who call themselves the Embassy of the Republic of Con- science, took over the empty property in Great Portland Street in December.

They have been using it as a shelter for people in need and are raising awareness about environment and homelessness.

One group member, Janksy, decorated the premises with “sustainable art” made out of waste from nearby areas.

“We’re pushing sustainable development goals,” he said. “The government is trying to do it but they’re not achieving anything. So we’re pushing the message from a grassroots level.

“There are 8,000 home- less people on the streets of London, and that’s without the hidden homeless – the single mums, and people in hostels.

“We have all these empty buildings – mansions, empty, owned by the super rich. We’re just putting them to use.”

Another squatter, Des, who said he became homeless on Christmas morning, said: “I didn’t know what to do so I walked from Mile End to Tottenham Court Road, and bumped into these guys. I just stopped to ask some questions, and they invited me in and I’ve been with them ever since.

“They helped me out and they took me in when they didn’t have to. Com- ing from my background, I never really paid attention to environmental issues. But being out here and seeing it for myself, it has opened my eyes a lot.”

It has been reported the Congolese government was in rent arrears. How- ever, the property’s free- holder Mount Eden Land Ltd said that despite this the Congolese still had a right to the “peaceful enjoyment of their property”.

The squatters were escorted out on Wednesday afternoon by five enforcement officers and a German Shepherd guard dog.

Daniel, another of the squatters, said: “We’ve been evicted. We’re going to have to spend the night outside in the cold. And then just like mushrooms, we’re going to pop up in another empty shop.”

A representative of Mount Eden Land Ltd said: “The occupiers were there illegally and have been removed.”

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