Crime is increasing in the world’s cities and now affects more than half of urban residents in developing countries, the UN agency for human settlements says in a new report. Global crime rates increased by around 30 percent between 1980 and 2000, the equivalent of more than 3,000 extra crimes per 100,000 people, said UN-HABITAT. In Latin America, where 80 percent of the population is urban, the rapidly expanding cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Caracas account for more than half of violent crimes in the respective countries. The report, entitled Enhancing Urban Safety and Security: Global Report on Human Settlements 2007, notes that more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Although 60 percent of urban dwellers in developing nations have been crime victims in the past five years, the general fear of criminal and terrorist attack is out of proportion to actual levels of violence, UN-HABITAT said. This in turn prompts people and planners to focus far more on personal security than may be necessary and leads to literally putting up walls between the haves and the have not. The report, timed to coincide with World Habitat Day, said poverty, insecurity of land tenure, social exclusion, poor planning and corruption were among the root causes of the global problem.
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