Uncontacted tribes 'at risk of extinction' UN forum is told

May 2, 2008

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An Indigenous organisation set up to defend the rights and lives of uncontacted tribes in South America has stated that the majority of these tribes are ‘at risk of extinction.’

The statement was made by the International Indigenous Committee for the Protection of Uncontacted Tribes and those in Initial Contact in Amazonia, the Chaco and Eastern Paraguay (CIPIACI) at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). It demands specific measures to protect the tribes.

‘Given the risk of extinction for the majority of uncontacted tribes and those in ‘initial contact’ in the Amazon jungle and the Gran Chaco’, CIPIACI declared, ‘we urge the governments of the relevant countries to declare the tribes’ protection high priority, adopt policies to protect them, and take effective measures to protect them in coordination with Indigenous peoples and civil society.’

CIPIACI’s statement demands that the tribes’ rights of ownership over their land should be acknowledged, and that governments should cancel the projects and natural resource activities that threaten the tribes, their society, culture and environment.

CIPIACI is made up of Indigenous organisations from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.