IWGIA statement at the 51st ACHPR Session in the Gambia
IWGIA and its partner organization OCADEC are seriously concerned about the current situation of the San in Huila, Kunene and Kuando Kubango provinces.
Between 1998 and 2011, contact established with San communities in Huíla indicated that these communities suffered serious privations, high mortality rates and social fragmentation during the 27 years of civil war, and identified themselves as an ethnic group in need of special attention. There is a long history of not only positive relationships, but also open exploitation and discrimination against the San by Bantu groups who have more socio-economic and political power.
In 2003 Trōcaire, WIMSA and OCADEC commissioned a first needs assessment on the living conditions and general situation of San communities in Angola.
As direct result of the needs assessment it identified the San as a small, vulnerable ethnic minority group, living in extreme poverty often in areas that are not yet cleared of landmines. The illiteracy rate among Angolan San is very high, and due to lack of infrastructure, lack of birth certificates and discrimination, only a few San children attend schools. The mortality rate of the San is very high due to lack of clinics. Even in areas where there are private clinics, the San families do not have money to pay for medication and treatments.
The results of this needs assessment are reflected in the report called Where the First Are Last: San communities fighting for Survival in Southern Angola.
As direct result and recommendations of the needs assessment report, Trōcaire with its donor partners funded 2 emergency programs from November 2003 to 2006.
In 2007, OCADEC – with support of the provincial government of Huíla and financial support from IWGIA – International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs, UN OHCHR, Oxfam Novib – Netherland, Trōcaire – Irish Catholic Agency, Terre des Hommes German and FAO-EU funded project – hosted the first ever Angolan San Conference – Angola, the San and Development. This historic meeting, convened in Lubango, the capital of Huíla province. It reflected on the following issues:
1. Basic services, water, health and education
2. Agriculture, land and water;
3. Leadership, Representation, Identity, Exclusion/Inclusion – (human rights);
4. Abilities, capacities, knowledge, competencies and access to the resources;
5. Gender – issue of woman and children
San communities in Angola have suffered the privations and isolation imposed by 27 years of war. Though San communities engage in a wide range of activities to provide for themselves and their families, ranging from agriculture, hunting-and-gathering, fishing, formal employment, working for Bantu neighbors, selling products and crafts, etc. many still find themselves food insecure.
The San are subject to open exploitation and discrimination by neighboring Bantu groups who have greater socio-economic and political power. Their low social status makes them extremely vulnerable and in danger of becoming extinct or assimilated. There are two groups of San in Angola: the !Xun and the Khwe. They face several problems such as:
· Lack of access to basic services such as education, health because of remoteness and exclusion/discrimination leading to high level of illiteracy, disease, death of pregnant women / children, etc.
· No access to water
· Insecurity due to violent conflicts or harmful practices
· Land rights and natural resources: lack of access to land, problematic of evictions of indigenous populations for different reasons such as conservancy, development projects, mining. Etc.
· Hugh level of poverty, no access to employment
· No representation into decision making institutions such as local authorities, national government.
We call on the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights to intervene in the current situation and urge government of Angola to set up specific development programs with the San consultation and full participation, to provide the San with land in order that they may practice hunting-gathering and several cultural practices, as ILO urges governments to implement the principles in its convention 107 of which the government of Angolan rectified in 1976.
We further call on the African Commission to intervene and ask the government of Angola to stop harassing the development organizations and villagers who work to support the indigenous people in Angola.
We request the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to send a mission to Angola as a matter of urgency to establish the truth and to advice the government of Angola on how to protect the human rights of all its citizens, including the indigenous people of the country, as per the African Charter on Human and peoples’ Rights.
Finally, we urge the government of Angola to implement the principles contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007, the adoption of which the government of Angola voted in favor of.