World Habitat Day: Governments in Africa must end forced evictions
Governments in Africa must end the practice of forced evictions that leave hundreds of thousands homeless every year, Amnesty International said on World Habitat Day, 5 October. In most cases evictions are conducted without any due process, consultation, adequate notice or compensation. 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 Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director. "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 Angola, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, 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," said Erwin van der Borght. As recently as July and August 2009, mass forced evictions were carried out in Angola, Chad, Kenya and Nigeria. 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 Angola’s 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 N’Djamena, Chad’s capital. Houses and other structures have been demolished in several neighbourhoods. Homes were still being demolished in late July 2009, and more people are at risk of being forcibly evicted. In Kenya, in July 2009, approximately 3,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes in Githogoro village, in the Kenyan capital, 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 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, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Zimbabwe will speak out with one voice against forcible evictions in Africa on 5 October 2009. 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 Erwin 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 calls 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. Let Africa's leaders know what you think SMS your own personal message to +447786 200 220 [local operator charges apply] 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. Sign a petition Download the petitions below targeting the authorities in Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. They are designed to be printed on large banners that people can write on. You may want to use the text of the petitions to design your own petitions or postcard actions.