Military police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil yesterday launched an armed operation to take control of the Complexo da Mare slum from local drug gangs.
ActionAid has just returned from a visit to da Mare, which contains 13 favelas. The complex has a reputation for serious drug-related violence. It is strategically important because it is on the road from the airport to the main World Cup stadium, so all football fans and players will pass it on their way to games. The favela is usually closed to outsiders.
Responding to the military police operation – known as a “pacification”, ActionAid’s Richard Grange said:
“The complex is home to 130,000 people. It is densely populated and suffers from a lack of basic public services. Until now it has been controlled by heavily armed drug gangs including armed teenagers.
“While many people will be relieved that the day-to-day risk of violence from drug gangs has been lessened, the question now is whether the local authorities provide improved public services.
“ActionAid works in da Mare helping local partner organisations provide supplementary educational support to try to give young people better opportunities. This is also to give them alternatives to joining the gangs — where life expectancy can be very short.”