The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting indigenous peoples, exacerbating underlying structural inequalities and pervasive discrimination. These serious impacts need to be specifically addressed in the response to and aftermath of this crisis.1
Reaction by States to the pandemic has been mixed, with some States rolling out COVID-19 programmes specifically focusing on indigenous peoples. Others have been providing a more limited level of support and some States are failing to adopt specific policies and at times neglecting even to include indigenous peoples in general COVID-19 responses. At the same time, indigenous peoples, as active agents and drivers of change, are finding their own solutions to respond to the health crisis, relying on traditional knowledge and practices,2 through their own representative institutions or self-government, as noted by indigenous representatives from several countries.
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Press Statement: International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission
June 26, 2020, Dhaka
The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission is alarmed at the reports of allegations of human rights violations, especially against the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past few months, as the pandemic spread into the three hill districts, widespread human rights violations have been reported by the security forces and the police, as well as vigilante groups, which includes cases of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary house searches, attack on religious places of worship, abduction and threats against indigenous leaders, activists and prisoners. While the pandemic has affected the indigenous people in various ways in terms of food shortage and access to medical services, the harassment and intimidation by the security forces and the activities of these vigilante groups have continued to aggravate the situation.