Scores of Families Risk Homelessness in Libya

Published: 31/Mar/2010
Source: Amnesty International

Scores of families of Tabu origin in Kufra municipality, south-east Libya, are reported to have been forcibly evicted and have had their houses demolished by law enforcement officials. Many are now in urgent need of shelter. Further forced evictions and demolitions are expected to follow.

The evictions and demolitions have taken place over the last five months, in areas where large numbers of families of Tabu origin, are believed to live. They are carried out by armed law enforcement officials, assisted by people driving bulldozers and fire engines.

According to reports received by Amnesty International, some families have been given minutes to leave their houses, while others found out that their homes would be destroyed when their house was marked with a cross a day before the demolition. Those who resisted have reportedly been beaten with sticks by security agents or had firefighters point high-pressure hoses at them. In some cases, law enforcement officials are said to have destroyed furniture inside the houses. Families have told Amnesty International that those evicted were neither consulted about the evictions, nor given alternative housing.

According to the information available to Amnesty International, Tabu community leaders were contacted by local officials in June 2009, who told them of plans for demolitions without providing details of when they would take place and how many dwellings they would affect. The officials stated that this would make way for a road. When the leaders protested, officials reportedly told them that they were simply implementing instructions “from above”.

Several families whose houses were demolished have not been able to find alternative accommodation, and were forced to live in the ruins of their houses without any shelter. According to community members, they were chased away by law enforcement officials, before finding shelter in farms or other public places.

Amnesty International fears that there will be more evictions, based on a copy of a letter dated 3 November 2009 from the Head of the Office of the Implementation of Housing Projects and Facilities in Kufra received by the organization. The letter was sent to Kufra’s Director of Public Security, and ordered the demolition of 730 “unsanitary houses” in three neighbourhoods where residents are mainly from Tabu origin, without offering alternative housing or emergency accommodation.

Download Urgent Action from Amnesty International website here.

Themes: Mass Expulsions, Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, Statelessness
Regions: Libya
Year: 2010