NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – Governments in Africa must end the practice of forced evictions that leave hundreds of thousands homeless every year, Amnesty International (AI) has said as World Habitat Day is marked.
AI’s Africa Programme Director Erwin van der Borght has said that in most cases, evictions are conducted without any due process, consultation, adequate notice or compensation.
He said that officials carrying out the evictions often use excessive force against residents.
“It is completely unacceptable that governments across Africa continue to act in violation of regional and international law, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” said Mr van der Borght.
“Governments have a responsibility to ensure that no further forced evictions take place in Africa and that victims of forced evictions receive adequate alternative housing and access to effective remedies.”
Amnesty International has documented cases of forced evictions in Kenya, Angola, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. 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 and personal possessions, but after forced evictions people may no longer be able to access clean water, food, sanitation, work, health and education,” he said.
As recently as July and August 2009, mass forced evictions were carried out in Angola, Chad, Kenya and Nigeria.
In Kenya, in July 2009, approximately 3,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes in Githogoro village, Nairobi. The evictions were carried out without adequate notice or any consultation with those affected.
Many were left without shelter, some being forced to live in the rubble of their former homes, and without access to clean water, sanitation or health care.
In Angola, between 20 and 26 July, around 3,000 families were forcibly evicted from their homes in the adjoining neighbourhoods of Iraque and Bagdad in the capital Luanda. The families’ homes were demolished, their possessions destroyed, and they were left without shelter.
In Chad, since February 2008, tens of thousands of people have been made homeless after being forcibly evicted from their homes in the capital N’Djamena.
Houses and other structures were demolished in several neighbourhoods. Homes were still being demolished in late July 2009, and more people are at risk of being forcibly evicted.
In Nigeria, in August 2009, the government of Rivers state began forcibly evicting thousands of people to make way for a cinema complex; thousands more remain at risk of forced eviction and destitution. Many of those facing forced eviction claim the state government’s consultation on the planned evictions was not adequate. The people who live there have received no adequate alternative housing.
People from all over the African continent are planning protests on World Habitat Day to condemn the mass forced evictions being carried out by governments.
Survivors of mass forced evictions, residents of informal settlements and Amnesty International supporters in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Zimbabwe will speak out with one voice against forcible evictions on Monday.
Amnesty International members in Austria, Canada, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the US will engage in simultaneous campaigning activities in solidarity with their call.
“The mobilisation of people from all over Africa in defiance of the hugely destructive practice of mass forced evictions carried out by governments continent wide is a wake up call to African leaders,” said Mr van der Borght.
“People will not stand by as their homes are illegally destroyed by their government.”
As part of its Demand Dignity campaign, Amnesty International has called on governments in Africa to adopt guidelines for evictions, based on the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement, and which comply with international human rights law.