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Please halt all forced evictions in Port Harcourt

This is an open letter to the Governor of Rivers State, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Your Excellency Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – Governor of Rivers State,

I am writing to express my concern at the forced eviction of thousands of people from their homes in Njemanze waterfront settlement in 2009, and urge you to reconsider plans to evict over 200,000 more people living in other waterfront settlements in Port Harcourt. The plans to demolish the waterfronts are being implemented without genuine consultation with residents, the provision of adequate notice, compensation or alternative accommodation and the availing of legal remedies.

Nigeria is violating its obligations under international human rights law, by carrying out forced evictions and by failing to establish sufficient safeguards to prevent forced evictions. While I understand the need for city development, the evictions connected to the demolition of the waterfronts run contrary to your government’s poverty reduction strategy, RIVSEEDS, which commits your government to the “gradual phasing out of waterfront settlements through annual reconstruction and allocation”.

They also run contrary to Nigeria’s commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals, which include a commitment to reducing the number of people living in slums by 2020.

I urge you to declare a moratorium on all evictions in the waterfronts until safeguards against forced evictions, in line with Nigeria’s international obligations are put into place. Such guidelines must include genuine consultation with the affected communities to identify alternatives to evictions and on resettlement options, adequate prior notice of eviction, and the provision of alternative accommodation. All persons who are evicted must be provided with compensation for losses.

Urban renewal, however legitimate its intention, should never come at the cost of the human rights of the citizens of Port Harcourt.

I urge you to make Port Harcourt a world leader in city redevelopment by choosing to develop the city in a way which is truly human rights friendly.

Yours Sincerely,

Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK

PS: here are links to our latest report on evictions in Port Harcourt and to our campaign to end forced evictions.

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