국제앰네스티는 새로 발간된 보고서를 통해 나이지리아 당국에 20,000명의 사람들을 거리로 내앉게 만드는 하코트 항(Port Harcourt) 지역의 철거 및 퇴거 작업을 중단할 것을 촉구 했다.
국제앰네스티 타완다 혼도라(Tawanda Hondora) 아프리카국 부국장은 “계획적인 철거는 수백 수천 명의 약자들을 빈곤으로 내몰고 말 것”이라며 “정부는 국제인권기준이 보장될 때까지 철거를 중단해야 한다” 고 밝혔다.
주 정부는 이 지역에 대한 철거는 2009년 시작한 도시 재개발 사업을 시행하는 데 꼭 필요하다고 주장했다.
나이지리아 당국은 퇴거 주민들을 위한 재정착 계획도 세우고 있지 않은 실정이다. 초등학교 교사인 체리티 로버츠(Charity Roberts)는 “돈이 문제”라면서 “지금 당장 사람들은 먹고 살 음식이 없다. 이러한 상황에서 어떻게 이주할 수 있겠는가? 이들 중 일부의 생업은 (어업과 같은) 바다와 밀접한 관계를 맺고 있다. 이들은 어찌하란 말인가?”라며 국제앰네스티에 전했다.
이에 관해 혼도라 부국장은 “재개발 사업 구성에 있어 이 지역에 살고 있는 사람들의 의견은 전혀 반영되지 않았으며 이로 인해 더욱 불투명하고 불안전한 상황이 초래됐다”고 말했다.
OVER 200,000 NIGERIANS AT RISK OF LOSING THEIR HOMES
27 October 2010The Nigerian authorities must suspend a series of planned demolitions and evictions in waterfront areas of Port Harcourt that will leave over 200,000 people at risk of homelessness Amnesty International said in a report released today.
“These planned demolitions are likely to plunge hundreds of thousands of Nigeria’s most vulnerable citizens further into poverty,” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s deputy Africa Program director.
“The government should halt the waterfront evictions until they ensure they comply with international human rights standards.”
The Rivers State government claims the demolition of the waterfronts is necessary to implement the Greater Port Harcourt Master Plan, an urban renewal project launched in 2009.
The development of the waterfront promenade is a central feature of the Master Plan – which encompasses the whole city – but full details have not been made public.
“None of the affected communities have been adequately consulted about these urban renewal plans and this has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity,” said Tawanda Hondora.
“The government must make every effort to identify alternatives to evictions, using them only as a last resort.”
The Nigerian authorities have not developed any resettlement plan to provide alternative accommodation to the hundreds of thousands of people likely to be evicted.
On 28 August 2009, Njemanze, a waterfront settlement, was demolished as part of the urban renewal plan. It is estimated that over 13,000 people were forcibly evicted without adequate notice. They lost their homes and, in many cases, their possessions and livelihoods. One year on, many still have nowhere to live.
Chidi Ekiyor, 15 years old, has been sleeping under a flyover since the demolition of the house he shared with his aunt in Njemanze. Chidi told Amnesty International that he has been arrested five times since he lost his home. Most nights he and the other boys are harassed by police or older boys who steal their money or beat them.
“Cash is the problem,” Charity Roberts a primary school teacher who lives in a property marked for demolition told Amnesty International. “Right now people don’t even have enough to eat. How will they relocate? There are some people [whose livelihood depends on] the waterside [fishing etc]. What would they do?”
The Rivers state government claims to have undertaken a buy-out scheme, purchasing all the properties on the waterfront and paying owners a replacement value for them.
Under this scheme however, tenants, who make up the vast majority of the waterside population, are completely ignored and can claim no entitlements. House owners who do not want to sell their houses are also given no alternative.
“Nigeria has put in place legislation to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords. It is hypocritical to say the least that once the state government itself becomes a landlord, it flouts its own rules,” said Tawanda Hondora.
Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian authorities to cease all forced evictions until all necessary safeguards have been put in place to ensure that evictions are carried out in accordance with international human rights law, including the development of a resettlement plan to provide adequate alternative housing to residents.
The authorities should undertake a genuine public consultation on the Greater Port Harcourt Master Plan and ensure that it complies with international standards, in particular on the right to adequate housing.
Amnesty International is also concerned about the excessive use of force, including the unlawful use of firearms, displayed by security forces while undertaking forced evictions. In October 2009 at least 12 people were shot and seriously injured, and one killed, on Bundu waterfront when armed security forces opened fire on a crowd protesting planned demolitions there.