Arco-Iris 1

What is affected
Housing private
Land Private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 07 March 2012
Region AFL [ Africa lusophone ]
Country Angola
Location Arco-Iris, Lubango, Huila Province

Affected persons

Total 1250
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution

HIC-HLRN reminds the Angolan authorities of the recommendation of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the State of Angola, on 12 February 2010, including to:

  1. Adopt legal measures that give a strict definition of the circumstances and guarantees related to evictions, and to cease all forced evictions until such measures be established;
  2. Invite the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing to visit Angola, so as to proffer an independent opinion and advice to the Angolan government on the development of legislation and policies in accordance with international standards;
  3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee that eviction should be considered only as a last resort, and to adopt legislation and guidelines that specifically define the relevant circumstances for lawful evictions and the human rights safeguards in the event that an eviction is carried out;
  4. Provide the necessary assistance to evicted persons and households, especially vulnerable groups’ and persons with special needs, including women, children and elderly people.


HIC-HLRN recommends that the State of Angola adopt the following urgent measures:

  • To stop the demolitions immediately;
  • To find ways to resettle the evicted people and enter into meaningful consultations with them so as to implement a proper rehousing process;
  • To provide reparation to the families of those who died and organize compensatory mechanisms for all those who already lost their homes.


Accordingly, HIC-HLRN requests that the National Assembly urgently form a commission to investigate and evaluate the circumstances and consequences of the eviction process being carried out in Lubango City, and ensure reparations for the victims.


HIC-HLRN also requests of the President to order an immediate end to such evictions, and respect all the conditions that Angola is obliged to observe during such actions, in accordance with General Comment No. 7 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and establish a process leading to an investigation that will review the facts, prosecute and punish the people responsible for them.


Forced eviction
Land losses

- Land area (square meters)

- Total value
Housing losses
- Number of homes 250
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative

The announced objective is to demolish more houses in the Arco-Iris area, but also in other areas where houses to be demolished have been already stamped with a number given by the local administration. This is likely to affect thousands of other families, without any guarantee that they be resettled or receives any form of reparation. The previous evictions have caused the death of seven people, including two children: one who fell off a truck that was transporting evicted people and one child whom government agents ran over with their cars while escaping the stones thrown by people living in the nearby Canguinda area. One adult fainted at seeing his house being demolished, and later passed away at hospital. Among the four other persons who died were also children who lived in one of the demolished houses.

Brief Description

On the morning of 12 June, at 04:00, a detachment of more than 20 armed police and a few plainclothes officers stationed themselves in the Arco-Iris community. Following them were bulldozers that began to demolish the houses at 05:00. In total, eight houses were demolished, all under armed cover. The previous day, authorities demolished three houses. In all of these houses, most of the residents’ belongings were destroyed under the rubble. Also demolished was the Evangelical Pentecostal Church of God’s Power in Angola.

After starting the demolition, when local activists began to question the police, the police fired three warning shots in the air, threatening the residents with live fire.

As part of the effort to induce people to vacate their homes, authorities have promised households that they would receive 3,000 bricks, if they agreed to take their tin sheeting off, to give the impression they were leaving voluntarily, and build somewhere else. However, those families who accept that arrangement also must accept to be homeless until they manage to build their own shelter. Those who refuse this eviction are threatened with force and forfeit the chance to receive even this crude compensation.

The Lubango Municipality (Administração Municipal do Lubango) is carrying out the forced evictions with help of police and Hyundai bulldozers. About 500 families are affected by the current wave of demolitions, totaling to 2,500–3,000 persons. Half of them already lost their home.

The Arco-Iris evictees are reportedly being transported to a make-shift relocation site in the town of Tchituno, nine kilometers away. ACC has reported that the site lacks adequate housing, water, roads, electricity, schools, health facilities, public transport, physical security, or access to recreation. Robberies and other violent crimes are common in the absence of police or security personnel. In fact, reports indicate that the Lubango authorities literally dumped the evicted people in a desolate plot covered with thorny bushes, snakes, and without the support of promised construction material.

These forced evictions have harmed especially residents with special needs and conditions such as the elderly, sick persons and outpatients. At the Tchituno relocation site, ACC reported such cases as an evicted 60-years-old women suffering from thrombosis, who is now prevented from continuing her treatment in the central hospital.

Although journalists are not allowed to enter the area, the independent newspaper Novo Jornal reported that, CFM railway officials, in November 2009, said all displaced would receive new houses. The affected families later found out that they are expected to build their homes themselves on plots to be bought from provincial government for about US$250 each. Other reports indicate that parts of the assigned plots are farming lands belonging to inhabitants of Tchavola, and the affected families’ occupation of those lands has sparked tensions and conflicts.


Several waves of demolitions in Angola precede these recent developments. Every time, local and national civil society organizations have reacted in protest. In earlier instances, even the National Assembly (parliament) and the Catholic Church had reacted. For example, in March 2010, more than 3,000 families were forcibly evicted and sent to an isolated area; in August 2010, 1,300 families in Matala and Quipungo municipalities were evicted after negotiations that resulted in somewhat better conditions (in Matala) with help of a local human rights group. In September–October 2010, Angolan authorities evicted and demolished more than 3000 houses along the Mukufi River and the evictees were sent to Tchimukwa area, nearby Tchavola, under the same conditions of those of Tchavola. The current evictions also resemble violations committed at Tchavola and Tchimukua, in March and September 2010.

Affected People/Population

The oldest inhabitants of the Arco-Iris zone built their house in the 1940s, still under Portuguese rule, and before the colonial administration planed the avenue that is now used as a reason to evict people of the area. More families arrived and built their home in the area along the years of civil war, which forced the internal displacement of 4.1 million people in Angola.[i]

Official Reasons

Lubango City officials are claiming that the current evictions and demolitions are necessary, because the targeted homes were built on the site of a planned avenue. However, that pretext is not credible, since the government plan reportedly is to evict a wider area encompassing all of the homes in the Arco-Iris Zone in a second phase of destruction beyond the planned road. Since Angolan “laws restricting rights, freedoms and guarantees…may not have a retroactive effect,” even if some of the houses were standing in the way of an urban plan, many of them predate that design and, thus, are not in violation of any planning law.[ii]

[i] UN, Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (November 2001), P. 10, at:

[ii] Constitution of Angola, Article 57.

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