Indigenous People Face COVID-19 High Risk
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, José Francisco Cali Tzay, on May 18, 202, expressed his serious concerns about how COVID-19 is impacting indigenous peoples worldwide, over and above the threat the pandemic poses to their health.
“I am receiving more reports every day from all corners of the globe about how indigenous communities are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it deeply worries me to see it is not always about health issues,” Tzay stated.
The UN official noted that “states of emergency are exacerbating the marginalization of indigenous communities, and in the most extreme situations, militarization of their territories is taking place.”
“Indigenous peoples are being denied their freedom of expression and association, while business interests are invading and destroying their lands, territories and resources,” Tzay continued.
According to UN sources, consultations with indigenous people and related environmental assessments are being suspended allowing mega-projects in the agribusiness, mining, and infrastructure (e.g. dams) sectors to proceed.
Poverty rates have increased among indigenous peoples, as have malnutrition rates, while lack of access to clean water and sanitation and to medical services remains an urgent and life-threatening issue for indigenous people as a whole.
Tzay has noted that groups that have autonomy and some form of self-government have more food security.
The International United Nations Watch (IUNW) applauds the UN’s on governments to support indigenous peoples so that they can implement their own plans to protect their communities and urges the international community to ensure that they are not discriminated against.
IUNW also endorse the UN call for states to make sure that indigenous peoples have access to information about COVID-19 in their own languages, I a crucial factor if people are to fully grasp what it is they need to do at ground-level in order to protect their communities in tackling the pandemic.
IUNW commends the call by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples that governments should provide more protection and care for indigenous people during this time of COVID19. IUNW notes that otherwise the outcome for indigenous peoples could be catastrophic, especially since they are already among the world’s marginalized and discriminated against, lacking as they do in many places the core services essential to their protection in these viral times.