UN challenges Angola

The largely unplanned evictions are meant to make way for a government housing project. The United Nations special rapporteur described the development as a “gross violation of human rights”. Miloon Kothari, who was appointed by the UN Commission on Human Rights, said “large-scale forced evictions have been on-going on in Angola for many years,” but he was particularly concerned by the more recent and reportedly violent cases in the capital Luanda, and also by the fact that the Government had postponed his planned visit to the country. “In my capacity as special rapporteur on adequate housing appointed by the UN Commission on Human Rights, I have been following closely for some time the situation with respect to housing rights in Angola, particularly in light of the persisting practice of forced evictions in Luanda. “I have brought my concerns to the attention of the national authorities, but no response has been received yet and the most recent events suggest that such appeals are not being taken into account. “I am particularly concerned in light of the fact that my previously planned official visit to the country has been postponed and has not yet been rescheduled by the Government,” said Kothari in a statement. He said hundreds of families were affected at the end of last year when the Luanda Provincial Government undertook “forced evictions and demolitions of homes” in the municipality of Kilamba Kiaxi in the capital. “Over 600 families were affected by forced evictions for the purpose of implementing the governmental housing project Nova Vida,” he said, adding that those remaining in several of the neighbourhoods were then reportedly evicted earlier this month. “Reports indicated that members of the National Police Force, provincial inspectors as well as agents of a private security company shot into the crowd of residents, kicked and hit people with guns and whips. The law enforcement agents allegedly acted with excessive use of force.” Kothari said he had repeatedly drawn attention to the “worrying practice of forced evictions worldwide,” and had recently developed a set of guidelines aimed at assisting States in developing policies to prevent forced evictions which he had also shared with Angolan authorities. “I call on the Angola government to take immediate steps to comply with its human rights obligations and to promptly act on this now public appeal,” said the expert, who serves in his personal capacity and is unpaid. Meanwhile, a strategic programme to reduce maternal death rate by 30 percent until 2008 in Angola’s central Huambo province is being implemented in the region. The Huambo province director of the Health Ministry, Elias Finde, who was speaking at the opening ceremony of a workshop on women health, said the programme included the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructures aiming at improving the quality of the health services to the communities. He said given that women health in Huambo was affected by a low coverage of the sanitary network, poverty and high rates of illiteracy among females, the programme was even more relevant to them. He also mentioned poor housing, scarce drinking water and deficient basic sanitation as another factors affecting women health. He seized the opportunity to appeal to the multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary groups to hands towards providing conditions to improve women health, taking into account their fundamental role within the families and in the development of the attended the workshop which was seeking to trace the causes and find solutions to health problems among females. The workshop was run by the provincial department of the Ministry of Family Promotion and Women Affairs. In another development, the Angolan government has signed a memorandum of understanding on the initiatives of fighting against, with United States and some United Nations agencies. The agreement was signed by the Angolan Health minister, Sebastiao Veloso, the American ambassador in the country, Cyntia Efird, and representatives from World Health Organisation (WHO), Fautomatta Diallo, Unicef, Akhil Iyer, and ExxomMobbil executive director, Terry Mcphail. The memorandum is part of a challenge made in June 2005 by the United States of America president, George W. Bush, which aims at reducing children mortality rate caused by malaria to 30 percent in the African Sub Saharan region. The memorandum includes a rise in the malaria prevention budget of over US$1 billion for a five year period. Through this initiative, the US government will provide, as from 2008, US$300 million per year, for the world combat against malaria, as well as US$130 million to assist people in the most affected African countries. The action started being implemented this year with US$7,5 million for Angola, which is expected to rise considerably in the coming years.

April 2006
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