World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Indigenous children face greater survival threats


Indigenous children face greater threats to survival

Higher Mortality Rates and Lower Rates of School Enrolment Than Other Children

MADRID, 25 February 2004 – Indigenous children are among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in the world and global action is urgently needed to protect their survival and their rights, says a new report from UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence.

Improving the lives of indigenous children is crucial not only for their own health and well-being but for the future of indigenous peoples and their unique place in the human family, the report concludes.

“When indigenous children are allowed to live in peace and security and free from discrimination, they have an enormous potential to contribute not only to their own communities but to national and global society,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. “If we are to achieve goals such as poverty reduction, education for all and an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we must put all children – especially the most vulnerable children such as those in indigenous communities – at the centre of our efforts.”

There are an estimated 300 million indigenous persons worldwide. They inhabit every region of the globe, originating in some 70 countries and speaking three quarters of the world’s 6,000 languages. About half of the global indigenous population lives in Asia; the second-largest population lives in Latin America.

Compared to non-indigenous children, indigenous children generally have lower vaccination rates and higher mortality rates; lower rates of school enrolment; higher rates of grade repetition and school drop-out; and inadequate protection in formal justice systems. In income-rich and income-poor countries alike, infant, child and maternal mortality rates are higher among indigenous groups. Birth registration – the first step to a legal identity and the claims of citizenship – is often substantially lower among indigenous children.

The report details how the rights of indigenous children in both rural and urban areas are often compromised or denied. Specific areas of concern include the rights of indigenous children to survival and development; to good health; to education that respects their cultural identity; protection from abuse, violence and exploitation; and participation in decision-making processes relevant to their lives.

The report says that governments must devote resources and enact legislation, policies and services to supporting indigenous families.

Indigenous communities often live under severe cultural and social stress. Lack of opportunity, cultural discrimination, inadequate social support, loss of land or difficulty integrating into the dominant culture contribute to low self-esteem and loss of identity that can give rise to depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and suicide. Indigenous children are also at risk for human trafficking, sexual and labour exploitation, and the impact of armed conflict and civil unrest.

The Digest highlights four strategic areas where it has been demonstrated that investment, particularly when it builds on the strengths of indigenous communities, can pay off for indigenous children. Practical initiatives include:

Health and nutrition – undertake assessment studies of indigenous health practices and the roles of different community members in health care; train indigenous persons as health workers and work with traditional healers and birth attendants; improve access to health services, especially in distant and remote locations.

Education – develop pre-school education programmes; offer bilingual education programmes; make education relevant by, for example, using elders as resources in schools; make class schedules compatible with the daily and seasonal rhythms of community life.

Protection and support – build up the capacity of indigenous families, kinship networks and communities; focus on indigenous children and youth in urban and peri-urban situations; ensure the justice system demonstrates cultural awareness and sensitivity.

Participation in decision-making – take steps to overcome obstacles to birth registration, including issues of awareness, access and opportunity; empower indigenous children to participate in community, national and international discussions.

The Digest works with a definition established in 1995 by the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations. The criteria describe these defining characteristics:

priority in time with respect to the occupation and use of a specific territory;

voluntary perpetuation of cultural distinctiveness, which may include language, social organization, religion and spiritual values, modes of production, laws and institutions;

self-identification as well as recognition by other groups or by State authorities as a distinct collectivity; and

an experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination, whether or not these conditions persist.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN Rights Office On Syria: The “Monstrous Annihilation” Of Eastern Ghouta

Since the Syrian Government and their allies escalated their offensive against opposition-held Eastern Ghouta on 4 February, there have been more than 1,200 civilian casualties, including at least 346 killed and 878 injured, mostly in airstrikes hitting residential areas... Ninety-two of these civilian deaths allegedly occurred in just one 13-hour period on Monday. More>>

ALSO:

Cyclone Gita: 70% Of Tonga Population Affected

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita. Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children. More>>

ALSO:


Gita: Samoas Clean Up After Being Swamped By Cyclone

Apia in the wake of Gita Photo: Rudy Bartley The clean up is continuing in the two Samoas after Tropical Cyclone Gita hit on Saturday morning. More>>

ALSO:

Grand Coalition : Germany's two main political parties set to govern under Angela Merkel.

The liberal-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) negotiated through the night in a marathon final push to nail down an agreement. More>>


80 Passengers: Kiribati Ferry Disaster

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with the Government of Kiribati to support children, families and communities affected by the recent Butiraoi ferry disaster. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO: