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STOP FORCED EVICTIONS IN AFRICA

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Across Africa hundreds of thousands of people each year are left homeless when they
are forcibly evicted from their homes by the authorities. In most cases evictions are
conducted without any due process, consultation, adequate notice or compensation.
The effect of forced evictions can be catastrophic, particularly for people who are
already living in poverty. Forced evictions result not only in people losing their homes
(which they may have built themselves) and personal possessions, but also their social
networks. After forced evictions, people may no longer be able to access clean water,
food, sanitation, work, health and education. Officials carrying out the evictions often
use excessive force against residents, and sometimes firearms.
Over the years Amnesty International has documented cases of mass forced evictions
in Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland and
Zimbabwe. Governments across Africa have acted in violation of regional and international
law, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Years after being forcibly evicted, millions of people remain homeless and destitute,
and many have been driven deeper into poverty. They have neither been rehoused nor
compensated for their losses and most do not have access to justice and effective
remedies. Those responsible for these human rights violations have not been brought
to account.
The photos displayed here illustrate the effects of mass forced evictions in Angola,
Equatorial, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Human rights activists in these
countries have stood up, often in the face of violent government repression, to demand
their right to adequate housing and to call on their governments to end forced evictions.
Too often their calls have fallen on deaf ears.
While these photos depict the destruction, the destitution and the suffering that resulted
from the forced evictions, hope is found in the brave and motivated people from the
affected communities determined to continue the struggle for their human rights.


WHAT ARE FORCED EVICTIONS?

A forced eviction is the removal of people against their will from the homes or land they
occupy without legal protections and other safeguards.
Evictions may be carried out only as a last resort, once all other feasible alternatives
have been explored and only after appropriate procedural and legal safeguards are in
place. These include genuine consultation with the affected people, prior adequate
and reasonable notice, adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses,
safeguards on how evictions are carried out, and access to legal remedies and
procedures, including access to legal aid where necessary. Governments are also
required to ensure no one is rendered homeless or vulnerable to other human rights
violations as a consequence of an eviction.
Not every eviction that is carried out by force constitutes a forced eviction – if
appropriate safeguards are followed, a lawful eviction that involves the use of force does
not violate the prohibition on forced evictions.


ANGOLA:

More than 10,000 families in Luanda, the Angolan capital, have been made homeless
after being forcibly evicted from their homes since July 2001. These evictions have
been carried out by police officers, soldiers, municipal officials and private security
guards, often using excessive force and firearms. Police have on some occasions also
arrested and briefly detained those resisting the evictions and members of the local
housing rights organization, SOS-Habitat, who were trying to persuade the authorities
to stop the forced evictions.
Few families have been compensated for their losses. Some were rehoused about 30
to 40 kilometres from the city in areas lacking jobs, schools, hospitals, basic services
and sanitation. However, the vast majority have been left to fend for themselves. Many
have been the victims of repeated forced evictions and hundreds of families remain
without shelter, living in the ruins of their former homes.
The end of the 27-year-long civil war in 2002 brought new opportunities for
development and reconstruction which increased pressure on urban land. Although
there have been fewer forced evictions since 2006, they continue to be reported, most
recently in the Iraque and Bagdad neighbourhoods of Luanda where several thousand
people may have been left homeless following forced evictions in July 2009. Most of


Luanda’s estimated population of 4.5 million remain at risk of losing their homes to
make room for up-market housing, offices and infrastructure projects.

 


CHAD:

Tens of thousands of people have been made homeless after being forcibly evicted
from their homes in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, since February 2008. Houses and
other structures have been demolished in several neighbourhoods, and the demolitions
continue, with more people at risk of being forcibly evicted.
The first wave of demolitions followed an armed attack on N’Djamena in February 2008
by a coalition of opposition armed groups. On 22 February 2008, President Idriss Déby
Itno issued a decree authorizing the destruction of illegally constructed buildings and
structures in two neighbourhoods of N’Djamena: Gardole and Walia Angosso. The
demolition programme was later extended into other areas such as Farcha, Atrone and
Chagoua.
Most of the forced evictions have been carried out by the security forces. In some cases
they reportedly used violence. Flouting the law and denying due process, the authorities
did not consult residents before evicting them. In many cases residents were given little
or no notice. Rarely did they have the opportunity to challenge the evictions through the
courts.
The vast majority of families who have lost their homes have not received alternative
housing or any other form of compensation. Some went to live with family members or
relatives, others returned to their villages of origin. Many remained in their
neighbourhoods, often living in the ruins of their old homes.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA:

About 1,000 families have been forcibly evicted from their homes to make room for
roads, up-market housing and hotels and shopping centres since 2003. Homes have
been demolished in the capital, Malabo, and in the major city of Bata on the mainland
as well as in other large towns. Many of the houses demolished were solid structures
in well-established neighbourhoods and the vast majority of the occupants had title to
the land.
Despite promises of relocation for some of the victims, to date no one has been
rehoused or compensated. Even the houses promised to the victims will have to be
bought at a cost that far exceeds their ability to pay, and the houses are located far from
the city and from their work and schools.
Thousands more are at risk as the authorities embark on a programme of urban
regeneration. The new wealth brought about by the discovery of oil in the mid-1990s
has led to pressure on the land for commercial purposes, as well as up-market housing.
In addition, the authorities have started to rehabilitate the main cities and their
infrastructure. On several occasions, the media has reported the publicly expressed
intentions of the authorities to rid the cities of the “chabolismo” (shanty towns).
Under these initiatives, many more families risk being forcibly evicted from their homes.


KENYA:

Millions of Kenya’s urban poor live with no guarantee of security of tenure. This is
the result of the systematic failure of Kenyan officials over the years to recognize the
proliferation and reality of informal settlements and slums and to plan accordingly.
Millions of people therefore face the daily risk of forced evictions from their homes and
informal business, with catastrophic consequences for individuals and families.
Since the establishment of the very first informal settlements in Kenya, there have been
large-scale forced evictions carried out in a manner that contravenes international
human rights standards. Mass forced evictions have usually involved government
projects or private developers claiming ownership of land on which some of the
settlements stand.
The estimated 7,000 residents of Deep Sea settlement live under the constant threat
of forced eviction. In February 2004, an estimated 2,000 residents of Raila village, Kibera,
had their homes demolished in a mass forced eviction to provide space for a road
bypass. On 23 September 2005, the homes of about 850 families were demolished.
In both cases, government bulldozers were used to evict residents, adequate notices
were not served, and the government made no effort to resettle or compensate the
victims. Hundreds of families became homeless as a result and many lost their
livelihoods. A number of schools, kiosks and private health clinics were also destroyed.
The government pledged to develop guidelines on evictions and formed a task force to
do this in 2006. There has, however, been no discernible progress in the task force’s
work over the past three years. On the contrary, forced evictions in Nairobi are ongoing.


NIGERIA:

More than two million people have been forcibly evicted from their homes in different
parts of Nigeria since 2000. Most were already marginalized and many had lived for
years without access to clean water, sanitation, adequate health care or education. In
2006, Nigeria was named one of the three worst violators of housing rights by the
Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions.
Forced evictions are continuing throughout the country. Since 2003, an estimated
800,000 people have been removed from their homes in Abuja, the capital. Between
May and July 2008 forced evictions took place on an almost weekly basis in Lagos,
with some communities facing their third forced eviction.
In April 2005, bulldozers demolished houses, churches, and medical clinics in the
community of Makoko, Lagos. About 3,000 people lost their homes. They said that they
had not been given prior notice, were not consulted on the planned evictions, and were
not given adequate alternative housing. Some of them, including children, were beaten
and injured by law enforcement officials, and others had all their belongings destroyed.
In Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state and the most populous city in the Niger
Delta, large-scale forced evictions are being carried out along the waterfront despite
earlier state government promises that no evictions would take place. Thousands of
people are likely to lose their homes.


ZIMBABWE:

In 2005, an estimated 700,000 people lost their homes, their livelihoods or both, as a
result of the Zimbabwean government’s campaign of mass forced evictions and
demolitions of homes and informal business premises.
The evictions and demolitions were carried out without adequate notice, court orders,
or appropriate relocation measures, in violation of Zimbabwe’s obligations under
international human rights law. During the evictions police and soldiers used excessive
force: property was destroyed and people were beaten.
In June 2005 the government launched Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Better Life),
and claimed it would provide housing to those who lost homes during Operation
Murambatsvina. However, very few of the victims of Operation Murambatsvina benefited
from Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, which also failed to comply with international
standards on adequate housing. Many were allocated small bare plots of land on which
they had to build homes with no assistance, and at least 20 per cent of any houses built
were earmarked for civil servants, police and soldiers.
To this day, many of those evicted in 2005 continue to live in deplorable conditions. The
lives of many families have become even more difficult, particularly as a result of
violence around the 2008 elections and the deterioration of the economy which resulted
in mass unemployment.


KEEP YOUR HOME STANDING

The phenomenon of forced evictions in Africa is a massive human rights scandal that
should be stopped immediately. Instead of taking measures to improve the housing
and living conditions of people, particularly those living in poverty, many governments
are driving people further into poverty by forcibly evicting them from their homes and
communities without any alternatives.
As long as governments are not held accountable, people will continue to be vulnerable
to this gross violation of their human rights, with catastrophic consequences for their
lives. We call on African leaders to help bring an end to these human rights violations.


WHAT YOU CAN DO
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Under international human rights law, evictions may be carried out only as a last resort, once all
other feasible alternatives to eviction have been explored and genuine consultation has taken place
with affected communities.


Governments are also required to ensure no one should be rendered homeless or vulnerable to other
human rights violations as a consequence of an eviction. These obligations are set out in more detail
in our leaflet. Take one away with you and use it to ensure that you, your friends and your family
understand the rights to which you are entitled.


ADD YOUR NAME TO THE HOUSE OF SIGNATURES
From 5 October 2009, World Habitat Day, people from across Africa will be adding their name to a
“house of signatures”, a home for human rights in Africa. Some of these “houses” will be presented
to African leaders whose influence could bring an end to forced evictions on the continent. Others
will be given to African human rights activists in solidarity with them and their vital work of
campaigning against forced evictions, often in the face of repression. These “houses”, including
suggested texts for petitions which target the authorities responsible for forced evictions in their
countries, can be downloaded from www.amnesty.org.


LET AFRICAN LEADERS KNOW WHAT YOU THINK
If you are a Safaricom or Zain subscriber, you can SMS your own personal message free of charge
to 3221, saying why forced evictions in Africa need to be brought to an immediate end. Your message
will be passed on to governments all over the continent and will be displayed on
www.demanddignity.org. You will be joining thousands of other Kenyans who have already demanded
respect for their dignity using this service.
ADD YOUR VOICE, ADD YOUR NAME, STAND UP AGAINST FORCED EVICTIONS IN AFRICA.

Last Updated (Monday, 15 November 2010 17:14)

 

Comments  

 
0 #1 MissBeryl Meyers 2010-12-03 15:36
Wow dunpresident,th is is very informative.Evictions should be discouraged all over the world not in Africa alone.Keep speaking this out.
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