CONGO BASIN

WHO ARE THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE CONGO BASIN?

Indigenous peoples in the Congo Basin region are primarily hunter-foragers living in the rainforest, often called ‘Pygmies’, as well as Mbororo pastoralists who range between the Congo Basin and the Sahel.

Indigenous peoples are ethnically diverse. Included in the group called “Pygmies” there are the Aka, Bagyeli, Bakola, Bakoya, Baka, Babenjelle, Babi, Bacwa, Babongo peoples, and others living in the rainforest regions of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo. These different peoples each have their own language, history, culture and origin.

The Mbororo nomadic herders live mostly in the border regions of Chad, Cameroon and Central African Republic all the way into Benin. They are part of the broader language and cultural group Peulh / Fulani present in West Africa.

HUMAN RIGHTS,
CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENT

Congo Republic was the first African country to adopt a national legislative framework for the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights in alignment with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Central African Republic is the only African State to sign the ILO Convention 169.

Indigenous peoples of the rainforests are vulnerable to human rights violations and discrimination, including exclusion from education, land tenure insecurity, exclusion from traditional leadership systems, forced labour, cases of slavery, rape of women and girls; sexual abuse by land-owners on farms, very low levels of access to health services, and other forms of insecurity and abuse. The majority of the indigenous peoples in the Congo Basin region do not have national identity cards and their citizenship is regularly questioned.

Even if a village has an indigenous majority, it is still very rare for a “Pygmy” to be permitted to be a village chief. This is the basis of a strong exclusion of participation in decision-making.

The indigenous forest dwellers are regularly trapped between poaching led by the dominant populations and conservation efforts, often funded by international NGOs. The

Pygmies are equipped with sophisticated traditional biodiversity skills and knowledge, including tracking competence, but because of illiteracy rates they are excluded from decent employment in protected areas.

Many indigenous forest dwellers are trapped between poaching, led by the dominant populations, and conservation efforts, often funded by international NGOs.

IPACC in cooperation with PIDP and WWF has launched a new human rights training programme in the Central African Republic.

The majority of Mbororo are illiterate and have no access to public services, which makes them vulnerable to discrimination and exploitation by neighbouring farmers. In addition, the mobile and individualistic Mbororo lifestyle, and weak traditional institutions, explain the lack of political representation of Mbororo nationally.

The majority of Mbororo are illiterate and have no access to public services, which often makes victims of discrimination and exploitation by neighbouring farmers. In addition, their lack of community spirit and individualistic lifestyle and their traditional weak institutions explain the lack of political representation of Mbororo nationally.

Recently, the Mbororo have been victims of attacks by Boko Haram, the extremist Nigerian based armed movement that specialises in kidnapping young girls and terrorising communities. In CAR, the security situation is extreme, with terrible killings and violence between warring factions and a sharp conflict between Muslims and Christians.

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PETITION TO AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS:

Indigenous Environment Defenders.

Africa’s hunter-gatherer and nomadic pastoralist peoples have lived symbiotically and sustainably within Africa’s ecosystems for millenia. Their Traditional Knowledge Systems are treasure houses of indigenous knowledge.

Under colonialism, African hunters and nomads suffered land dispossession and cultural oppression. In the post-colonial era, they’ve advocated for their land, cultural and human rights.

Now, in this Age of Climate Change, Africa’s hunter-gatherer and nomadic pastoralist peoples are recognised as frontline guardians and managers of African biodiversity, and provide early warning for climate change trends.

We appeal to African governments to formally recognise the Traditional Knowledge Systems and practices of hunters and nomads.

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