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24 Nov 2014

Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Satellite imagery assessment of forced relocations near the Luiswishi Mine

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At the request of Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Programme, the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) investigated reports of forced evictions near the Luiswishi Mine in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)...Reports indicated that residents of the village of Kawama were evicted on 24 November 2009, ostensibly to prevent artisanal miners from stealing CMSK minerals...Imagery acquired and analyzed by AAAS confirms that large numbers of structures were removed from three neighborhoods of Kawama between 31 May 2009 and 15 May 2010. At Lukuni-Gare, 76.42% of structures present in 2009 were not present in 2010. At Sampasa, 69.1% of structures present in 2009 had been removed by 2010, while 39.5% of structures were removed from Bikwano during the same time period. This is in contrast to the removal of between 3% and 7% of structures from Beria, Kalubamba, Kandulu, and Sokoto. The construction of new structures, similar in size and type to the removed structures, was observed in all seven neighborhoods. No signs of bulldozers or other heavy vehicles (e.g., rubble or tracks) were observed at any of the settlements. This is possibly due to the fact that almost six months had passed between the reported date of the evictions and the collection of the 15 May 2010 image. However, the contrast between the low percentage of structures removed at the Beria, Kalubamba, Kandulu, and Sokoto and the high percentage removed from Lukuni-Gare, Sampasa, and Bikwano suggests that the removals in these three neighborhoods were the result of a planned policy, which is consistent with reports of forced relocations.