COVID-19: Impacts on Indigenous communities

Often we contact indigenous brothers and sisters to learn about their experiences and to make comparison to our experience in Aotearoa. We discovered our indigenous whānau are experiencing high rates of COVID 19. We appreciate that our context differs, and indigenous and first nations people reside in various contexts.

There are many instances, where indigenous peoples are applying their own sovereign abilities to try to stop the spread of COVID in their communities. Similarly to what we witnessed in Aotearoa, first nations people are working together in their communities, they have created cultural and language specific resources, incorporated strict infection control measures, with stay at home orders, created check points around their tribal regions to prevent wayward travellers, implemented drive through and home visiting COVID 19 testing, and contact / trace options.

Reports to the United Nations from first nations has prompted the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people to become concerned of the impact of COVID 19 on indigenous communities worldwide. José Francisco Cali Tzay (Maya Kaqchikel)

(Guatemala) urged all countries to keep a spotlight on how indigenous people were impacted by COVID 19. Cali Tzay said:

“Indigenous peoples who lose their lands and livelihoods are pushed further into poverty, higher rates of malnutrition, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, as well as exclusion from medical services, which in turn renders them particularly vulnerable to the [Covid 19] disease,”

“Now, more than ever, governments worldwide should support indigenous peoples to implement their own plans to protect their communities and participate in the elaboration of nationwide initiatives to ensure these do not discriminate against them.”

For the Full Story:

The United Nations Special Rapporteur has invited global stakeholders to make a written submission ( of up to 3000 words) to him based on a range of topics he has provided about the experiences of indigenous peoples during COVID 19. These submissions will inform an overall report to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2020. (Deadline for written submissions: 19th June 2020).