Dear friend of IWGIA,
In the first quarter of 2020, Indigenous Peoples have continued to fight and advocate for their rights. From organising protests to ensuring that their communities are protected from the emerging threat of COVID-19, Indigenous Peoples have been at the heart of protests and negotiations around the world to protect their rights and raise their concerns.
In the start of 2020, COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the globe and is now recognised as a global pandemic. Many countries around the world have been and are severely affected by the fast-spreading virus which has proven to pose significant health risks especially for the elderly and persons with existing health conditions. However, people without access to adequate healthcare or relevant infrastructure – a reality for many Indigenous communities around the world – are at further risk. Throughout March, we have seen calls for support for these communities, as well as closures of Indigenous communities to outsiders as groups attempt to protect themselves.
In our response to COVID-19, IWGIA has taken a number of steps to ensure our staff, our partners and the communities we support remain safe. The Secretariat has been working virtually from home since mid-March and has postponed and/or cancelled any business-related travel through to the end of April for the time being. We also continue to remain in contact with our partners and communities, where we have advised them to heed the advice of their authorities and health professionals and have increased our flexibility in the projects we implement together. We all continue to monitor the situation.
All over the world, people have gone to the streets protesting against growing inequality. In Chile and Ecuador
, Indigenous Peoples have had leading roles in the protests. A key component of these protests has been the recognition of violations of key human rights, you can read more about the situation in Chile in this report
from the observation mission (available in Spanish).
At the same time, IWGIA has continued to document and advocate against human rights violations around the globe, from the Adivasis in India
who have been protesting against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) which Indigenous Peoples fear will render millions of them stateless because they will not be able to provide the necessary documents to prove their citizenship, to Indigenous Peoples and communities who have been documenting and supporting Indigenous Peoples struggles against land grabbing in Bangladesh
Further, with the launch of IWGIA’s new project, with support from Comic Relief, we continue to support and celebrate the strength of Indigenous women. Strong community women from across Tanzania, including from the Mgorogoro, Costal and Manyara regions, and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, as well as from Kenya and Cameroon, came together to share their challenges, aspirations and visions, and to reinforce their movement in Mgorogoro, Tanzania in February. The room was full of determined and enthusiastic women ready to unite their forces so that the new generation of girls in their community can enjoy human rights and gender equality. Read more about the conference in Tanzania
Finally - on an organisational note - IWGIA is pleased to announce that Ida Theilade has been elected as the chair of our board
, and that Kathrin Wessendorf has accepted the position of Executive Director from 1 April 2020.
We are looking forward to the developments 2020 brings as we continue to promote, protect and defend Indigenous Peoples' rights with your support. From all of us at IWGIA, we wish you health and happiness.
Yours sincerely, David Berger – Programme coordinator at IWGIA.