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Mass Evictions Ignored by UN in World Habitat Day in Angola, As Arms Trial Begins

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 6 -- The UN chose Angola's capital Luanda as the place to celebrate "Harmonious Cities" today. At UN headquarters, Inner City Press asked the UN's Spokesperson to respond to criticism of the selection, based on the many forced evictions carried out in Luanda. The Spokesperson said that UN-Habitat chief Anna Tibaijuka on the contrary commended Angola for social housing, and said that the UN "stands by Angola."

  But did she or the UN express any concerns about the forced evictions? "No comment on that," the Spokesperson said. Video here.

   Ms. Tibaijuka is respected in much of the UN system for her earlier report on forced evictions in Zimbabwe. Perhaps she feels the situation in Angola is not as bad, and therefore merits no comment at all. Or perhaps she feels its best for the UN or UN Habitat to offer unconditional support to Angola. Her silence raises questions, however. When next UN-Habitat speaks about evictions elsewhere, the old saw of double standards will be raised.

Ban Ki-moon and Anna Tibaijuka, Angolan mass evictions and comments not shown

   For now, here is a portion of an Amnesty International report on evictions in Angola:

"On the same day, 77 families in Bairro 28 de Agosto and 23 families in Banga Wé were forcibly evicted from their homes, which were then demolished. Six days later, on 30 November, 70 heavily armed police officers from the Fifth Police Division, together with military police, soldiers, members of a private security company and private demolition personnel, reappeared in the Cambamba neighbourhoods to continue with the forced evictions and house demolitions."

   And Anna Tibaijuka and UN-Habitat, as stated by the UN's Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson on World Habitat Day, have no comment on this?

  There are other Angola issues in the days news. In Paris, the trial is set to begin in a matter begun when Angolan president Eduardo Dos Santos, who has held power the country since 1979, contacted arms company chief Pierre Falcone in 1992 with Luanda subject to a United Nations arms embargo. Also charged is Jean-Cristophe Mitterrand, son of the president from 1981 to 1995, now facing prison time on bribery, embezzlement and complicity in illegal trade.

  This case of Angolan involvement in breaking a UN arms embargo is being opposed by the government, whose lawyer Francis Teitgen says that the Luanda authorities are against "public discussion of [national security] information in a foreign court."  Apparently, they are against public discussion of mass evictions as well, and the UN is obliging them.

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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