UN report: indigenous peoples threatened worldwide

The world’s 370 million indigenous people suffer disproportionately high rates of poverty, health problems, crime, unemployment, human rights abuses, and their cultural and sometimes physical survival are threatened, according to the first ever United Nations report on the question. The report, “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples” stresses that land rights, self-determination, and the principles of free, prior and informed consent are necessary for the survival of the world’s indigenous peoples both in developed and developing countries.

The report includes a number of alarming statistics:

* In the United States, a Native American is 600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis and 62% more likely to commit suicide than the general population;
* In Australia, an indigenous child can expect to die 20 years earlier than his non-Native compatriot. The life expectancy gap is also 20 years in Nepal, 13 years in Guatemala, and 11 years in New Zealand;
* Worldwide, over 50% of indigenous adults suffer from Type 2 diabetes—a number predicted to rise.

While indigenous peoples make up around 370 million of the world’s population—some 5%—they constitute around one-third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. The report says.

“Every day, indigenous communities all over the world face issues of violence and brutality, continuing assimilation policies, dispossession of land, marginalization, forced removal or relocation, denial of land rights, impacts of large-scale development, abuses by military forces and a host of other abuses,” according to the report.

The report was released Jan. 14. at a United Nations headquarters press conference with Myrna Cunningham, one of the authors of the publication, and Vicki Tauli-Corpuz, chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. “The first thing that is important to acknowledge is that the report was written by indigenous peoples, so this is the first time we can say that people are not writing about us, we are writing about the current situation we are living in different parts of the world,” Cunningham said. (Indian Country Today, Jan. 20)

See our last post on the world indigenous struggle.

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