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Angolan Authorites Clear Shantytown in Luanda


In Angola, police and security sources have demolished the homes of hundreds of poor families in two shantytowns, Cambamba One and Two, near the capital, Luanda. Several people were beaten during the operation and a four-year-old girl was shot and wounded.

Humanitarian workers say the families are now stranded, with no shelter and no place to go. They say the authorities failed to follow due process for the evictions. Some of the families have lived in the shantytowns more than 30 years. The Cambamba neighborhood is just one of many being torn down to make room to build new, more expensive housing.

Ollie Sykes is the Program Manager for Angola for the organization Christian Aid: “Security forces arrived in the area on Saturday and warned (residents) to leave the area by Monday, when it would be cleared. They presented no formal documentation, even when requested. By law here there is a procedure to be followed, whereby a mandate or compulsory notice of clearing (should be presented), but that did not happen…. On Monday morning at about 11 o’clock, about 100 members of the security forces, including the rapid reaction police, local administration fiscal officials, police and private security guards, all armed with automatic weapons, came. What ensued were a violent series of attempts to get the population to move from the areas while destroying shacks. Pregnant women were beaten and hemorrhaging, a four-year-old child was shot in the knee, and others were (allegedly) beaten later in police cells.”

Security forces returned Tuesday to continue clearing the area without any kind of legal procedure. Sykes says the action violates established law: “One of its key components allows for a grace period of three years in which residents and occupants can make claim to the title of the land with the local administration, as appropriate. I’m certain that a significant number of the residents of the Cambamba who are being violently evicted have some kind of title to their land…. The legal process has not been followed and unnecessary violence has been used against these people.”

Sykes says as yet, there are no negotiations that could lead to the respect of due process, compensation, or the shelter of the families affected.