Amnesty International released a report Thursday warning that more than 200,000 Nigerians currently living in shantytowns will face homelessness as a result of planned demolitions in waterfront areas of the area's oil hub, Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State government asserts that the demolition is necessary to implement an urban renewal project initiated in 2009.
Evictions began in August last year, AFP reports, and did not include any compensation or resettlement plans for affected communities. The cleared areas will house a cinema complex, theme park and other tourist attractions.
In Amnesty's report, its deputy Africa Program director Tawanda Hondora explains:
"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...The government must make every effort to identify alternatives to evictions, using them only as a last resort."
Amnesty International also released a briefing paper that asserted armed security forces in charge of the evictions are using excessive force and detailed an incident a year ago in which forces opened fire on civilians who were peacefully protesting. At least 12 people were shot.
Bundu, one of the waterfront areas, is one of the largest voting wards in the state, according to Reuters. Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi hopes to pacify ward residents and told the wire service that the demolition of the area was necessary to end violence in the city. He pledged to provide accommodations for those losing their homes.
But residents have little faith in the governor's promises and armed gangs in the area have demanded the government cease demolition of their homes.
The advocacy collaborative CMAP has released a video series of personal stories from evicted residents.
Linus, a resident of the waterfront, explained his own experience as security forces descended on his neighborhood.
View more personal testimonies from residents at cmapping.net.
Amnesty International has established a Web page for people around the world to leave a message of solidarity with the anti-demolition campaign. Leave a message of solidarity on Amnesty.org.
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