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Malnutrition, child deaths plague India''s tribal people
by Thomson Reuters Foundation
Sep. 2018
Malnutrition, child deaths plague India''s tribal people, by Roli Srivastava
India''s indigenous children are far more likely to die or suffer from malnutrition than those from other communities, according to the first government study on health among tribal groups.
Among indigenous communities, 57 out of every 1,000 children die before age five, compared to 37 deaths in other social groups, according to the report released last week.
The national average for malnutrition among children is 35 percent, while researchers found that 42 percent of indigenous children are underweight.
Researchers examined health conditions for India''s 104 million indigenous people, and called for resources to be directed specifically towards improving healthcare and food security among the country''s 705 tribal groups.
"Most states do not have funding for tribal health, nor is there any separate account of how money (from the health budget) has been spent on them," said Abhay Bang, a physician and public health expert who headed the research.
The government should allocate 8.6 percent of its annual budget for improving conditions among tribal people who account the same percentage of India''s population, the report recommended.
The researchers pointed to a number of challenges that indigenous people have in accessing healthcare and adequate food.
Almost 90 percent of the country''s tribal people live in rural areas, which are often in rugged and remote regions where doctors are reluctant to serve, the researchers said.
Many communities have been "robbed" of food, shelter and livelihoods due to "deforestation and forest laws that limit access to forest produce," according to the report.
Campaigners have called for better protection for tribal lands.
"These are traditional and free sources of food, but they have depleted," said Milind Thatte, founder of Vayam, a charity that works on tribal development. "Conserving these resources and giving tribals rights over them will go a long way in improving their health," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Tribal homelands have been eroded over the past few decades with the development of mines and major infrastructure projects say campaigners. Floods and famines have also taken a heavy toll on indigenous communities, forcing many to migrate, the report pointed out.
Migration often undermines nutrition among children, because they are deprived of the free meals provided by the government in schools and daycare centres in their home villages, the researchers found.
Some 146,000 children from tribal communities die each year, according to the report, which cited a study from 2011, the last year that data was available.
Sep. 2018
Uncontacted tribes at risk amid ''worrying'' surge in Amazon deforestation, by Karla Mendes
Ilegal loggers and militias cleared an area three times the size of Gibraltar in Brazil''s Amazon this year, threatening an "uncontacted" indigenous tribe, activists said on Tuesday.
Satellite imagery collected by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a Brazilian advocacy group, detected about 4,600 acres (1,863 hectares) of deforestation this year in the Ituna Itata indigenous land in northern Para state.
"This situation is very worrying," Juan Doblas, senior geo-processing analyst at ISA, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"There is a series of risks, not only to indigenous territories of uncontacted tribes, but also to other indigenous territories in the area."
The indigenous affairs agency Funai and the federal police were not immediately available to comment. The environmental protection agency Ibama said in a statement that official data on Amazon deforestation will be released in November.
Brazil''s uncontacted tribes, some of the last on earth, depend on large areas of unspoiled forest land to hunt animals and gather the food they need to survive.
They are particularly vulnerable when their land rights are threatened because they lack the natural immunity to diseases that are carried by outsiders, rights groups say.
Forest loss in Ituna Itata - from which outsiders were banned in 2011 to protect the uncontacted tribe - spiked to about 2,000 acres in August from 7 acres in May, said ISA, which has monitored the area through satellites since January.
South America''s largest country is grappling with scores of deadly land conflicts, illustrating the tensions between preserving indigenous culture and the pressures for economic development.
ISA filed a complaint in April to federal and state authorities about forest destruction and illegal logging in the area during the rainy season, which is unusual, said Doblas.
"It was a sign that something very serious was going to happen," he said. "It was a preparation for the invasion."
The environmental protection agency Ibama responded by sending in patrols in May, which temporarily halted the logging, he said, adding that ISA plans to file another complaint this week, using updated data and satellite images.

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States must take effective action to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples
by IPS, UN experts on Indigenous Peoples
Aug. 2018
States around the world must take effective action to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, says a group of UN experts. In a joint statement marking International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the experts say it is crucial that the rights of indigenous peoples are realised when they migrate or are displaced from their lands:
“In many parts of the world, indigenous peoples have become migrants because they are fleeing economic deprivation, forced displacement, environmental disasters including climate change impacts, social and political unrest, and militarisation. Indigenous peoples have shown remarkable resilience and determination in these extreme situations.
We wish to remind States that all indigenous peoples, whether they migrate or remain, have rights under international instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
While States have the sovereign prerogative to manage their borders, they must also recognise international human rights standards and ensure that migrants are not subjected to violence, discrimination, or other treatment that would violate their rights. In addition, states must recognise indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination; lands, territories and resources; to a nationality, as well as rights of family, education, health, culture and language.
The Declaration specifically provides that States must ensure indigenous peoples’ rights across international borders that may currently divide their traditional territories.
Within countries, government and industry initiatives, including national development, infrastructure, agro-business, natural resource extraction and climate change mitigation, or other matters that affect indigenous peoples, must be undertaken with the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples, such that they are not made to relocate against their will. States must recognise that relocation of indigenous peoples similarly triggers requirements including free, prior and informed consent, as well as restitution and compensation under the Declaration.
We are concerned about human rights violations in the detention, prosecution and deportation practices of States. There is also a dearth of appropriate data on indigenous peoples who are migrants. As a result of this invisibility, those detained at international borders are often denied access to due process, including interpretation and other services that are essential for fair representation in legal processes.
We call on States immediately to reunite children, parents and caregivers who may have been separated in border detentions or deportations.
In addition, States must ensure that indigenous peoples migrating from their territories, including from rural to urban areas within their countries, are guaranteed rights to their identity and adequate living standards, as well as necessary and culturally appropriate social services.
States must also ensure that differences among provincial or municipal jurisdictions do not create conditions of inequality, deprivation and discrimination among indigenous peoples.
We express particular concern about indigenous women and children who are exposed to human and drug trafficking, and sexual violence, and indigenous persons with disabilities who are denied accessibility services.
We look forward to engagement in the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration regarding indigenous peoples’ issues.
On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we urge States, UN agencies, and others, in the strongest terms possible, to ensure indigenous peoples’ rights under the Declaration and other instruments, and to recognise these rights especially in the context of migration, including displacement and other trans-border issues.”
* The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples.

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