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Cablegate: Angola: Evictions Show Progess and Problems

VZCZCXRO5236
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0636 1761646
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251646Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4104
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS LUANDA 000636

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF AO
SUBJECT: ANGOLA: EVICTIONS SHOW PROGESS AND PROBLEMS


1. (SBU) Summary: On the morning of June 19, 2007, military,
police, and private security forces forcibly evicted those
who were squatting on military-owned land. Local human
rights organizations decried the use of military forces for
the protection of private development projects, yet failed to
note the fact that the soldiers were used to clear illegal
settlements on military land. In contrast, the local UN
Human Rights Office noted the progress the GRA showed in
notifying residents of planned construction and evictions and
providing housing alternatives. End Summary.

2. (U) On June 19, 2007 residents were evicted and homes
destroyed in Luanda's "Comandante Gika" complex to make way
for a private high-value commercial and residential
development project. This military-owned land on prime real
estate near the city center has long been a favored site for
internally displaced persons (IDPs) and war veterans, and
multiple evictions have been carried out at the site over the
last 6 years, with evictees returning time and again. The
military has leased the land to a development company for a
complex that includes shopping, housing, and office space.

3. (U) Current residents were notified of the impending
construction and the subsequent need to move as early as
August 2006, and a neighborhood committee worked with the GRA
to identify alternative housing. The GRA moved the majority
of residents to new housing in Cuacuaco, a suburb 20 km from
downtown Luanda. Some residents, however, moved back to Gika
in protest, saying that their assigned housing was already
occupied and that local administrators were not resolving the
problem. These protesters were then caught in the forced
evictions; five residents, including the community organizer,
were arrested and released.

4. (U) Local human rights activists used both local and
international press outlets to decry the use of military
forces for private development projects, but failed to note
that military forces were operating on military-owned land.
Soldiers were ostensibly there to assist the eviction agents
hired by the development company, and have stayed on-site to
prevent people from returning. Human rights organizations
also publicized an alleged rape in connection with the
evictions, but subsequent information indicates that the
incident in question occurred before the evictions took
place, and does not appear to be related to the evictions.

5. (SBU) Comment: Though the UN Human Rights Office is still
investigating alleged irregularities in the assignment of
alternative housing and the alleged rape, it does not
currently plan to make any official statement to the GRA onQthe matter. The UNHRO privately commented that the issue is
more complex than portrayed in the press, and it does not
want to appear unsupportive of GRA processes and policies
that are providing increased protection and alternative
housing for IDPs. The GRA is seen as improving its
procedures for providing alternative housing and giving
advance notification of evictions. In this case, it appears
that some residents chose to ignore GRA resettlement offers
and prior notification and remain on military-controlled land
to face eviction. End Comment
EFIRD

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