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UN to protect indigenous groups
8/31/2011
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Campaign aims to prevent extinction of 35 tribes, organization says.

A new United Nations awareness campaign is attempting to prevent the extinction of 35 indigenous groups in Colombia, who are threatened by the country’s more than four-decade internal armed conflict.

International indigenous rights group Survival International said Aug. 31 that the campaign will address issues such as anti-personnel mines, internal displacement and the forced recruitment of minors into armed groups.

Last year, the UN warned that indigenous groups are especially at risk due to the conflict, even though they represent just 2 percent of Colombia’s population, adding to displacement caused by the promotion of extractive industries, like mining, and agriculture.

“The UN campaign rightly recognizes that the extinction of a tribe is not only a tragedy for those directly involved, but also an irretrievable loss for humanity itself,” said Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry.

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia estimates that 60 indigenous people have been killed so far this year.
Governmental economic growth policies, in addition to the armed conflict, have intensified the danger faced by indigenous peoples, many of them living in traditional societies.

On Aug. 9, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “Many of the estimated 370 million indigenous peoples around the world have lost, or are under imminent threat of losing, their ancestral lands, territories and natural resources because of unfair and unjust exploitation for the sake of ‘development.’ On this day, let us ask the crucial question: who actually benefits from this so-called development, and at what cost is such development taking place?”
—Latinamerica Press.


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