Help the Displaced Batwa Pygmies of Uganda
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Over two decades ago, the Batwa pygmy people of Uganda were evicted at gunpoint by the Ugandan government - with support from the World Bank - from the native forests that they and their ancestors had inhabited for tens of thousands of years, to make way for the country's mountain gorilla tourism and conservation.
While the conservation of the forests and Uganda's national parks has been successful, the Batwa people were never given any say on their eviction from their ancestral homeland, nor have they ever been compensated by the Ugandan government or World Bank. Many of the Batwa people now live in terrible poverty and face persecution, discrimination and horrific racial prejudice. A survey in 2000 found the life expectancy of the Batwa to be just 28, with almost 40% dying before the age of five.
While the country's profitable environmental and conservation tourism industry earns up to $34m (US) each year, according to the International Gorilla Conservation Program, the Batwa see none of these funds, and have not received any financial compensation for being evicted from their forests. The Uganda Wildlife Authority states that, from each $600 fee paid by a tourist for a tour to experience mountain gorillas, only $8 is allocated to local communities and NOTHING goes directly to the Batwa.
Additionally, the Batwa have no current rights to access or return to the forests they once inhabited, nor any say in the management of the lands that they and their ancestors lived in for countless generations.
The Batwa rightly feel that they have been ignored by the Government of Uganda and the international community, to say the very least, and that governments and organizations like the World Bank care more about animals than the lives of human beings.
This petition thus calls for:
1) The Batwa people to be fairly compensated financially by the Government of Uganda, the World Bank and the tourism and conservation industry in Uganda.
2) Legislation from the Ugandan government to end the horrific discrimination against the Batwa people.
3) The Batwa to be given access to the forests which belonged to them and their ancestors, and a role in the management and conservation of these forests, including the protected areas and national parks.
United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda:
Forest Peoples' Programme:
Recent Article on the Terrible State of the Batwa in Uganda from the BBC:
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