Indigenous Minority Groups decry discrimination in COVID-9 responses

CCFU during an event (courtesy photo)

Indigenous Minority Groups (IMGs) have called upon government and all duty bearers to deliberately design programs and responses that target them so as to uplift their standards of living.

The call was made during a virtual event that was organized by the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU-U) to celebrate the International Day for the World Indigenous Peoples.

During the discussions, CCFU Executive Director, Barbra Babweteera Mutambi noted that indigenous groups in Uganda have continuously been left out on a number of services and programs put in place by government.

“The IMGs have been left out on health services, education services and government development funds such as Myoga, Youth, elderly and women funds, all these are opportunities that would actually ensure that no one is left behind,” Babweteera said.

Babweteera said that during the 2020 IMGs International Day celebrations, it was reported that a number of IMGs experienced a lot of marginalization and exclusion from benefiting from the COVID-19 relief and response programs.

“This year, we still face a similar challenge with COVID-19 and again it has been reported that for example the Batwa people missed out completely on accessing the support that was coming directly from government by the Prime Minister’s office,” Babweteera noted.

CCFU Executive Director Barbra Babweteera Mutambi during the virtual event

She observed that there is need to ensure that no one is left behind in any program adding that activities which target IMGs should be prioritized because there is a social contract towards IMGs.

She as well called upon the IMGs to be proactive and demand for what is due to them, make relevant noise, become a nuisance to power holders so that they can feel you and understand that they need to have you considered.

During the event, CCFU Programme Coordinator, Fredrick Nsibambi noted that the engagement is as well aimed at finding out on whether the recommendations of last year’s celebrations have so far been implemented.

Nsibambi noted that it was recommended last year that all communication materials related to COVID-19 would be written and disseminated in IMGs languages.

“A call was made to ensure that among others, a representative of the minority groups be included on the COVID-19 district task force, among others,” Nsibambi noted.

Samuel Okene Ayaru form North Karamoja Indigenous Minority Group Platform (NK-IMGP) reported that less has been achieved from the previous recommendations adding that more still needs to be done to champion the rights of IMGs in the country.

“None of the recommendations has been put in place, we are continuing to be discriminated; forexample, a few of our people have been able to access testing and vaccination of COVID-19 and these are the few who are in town,” Okene said.

Okene added that when it came to giving relief, the IMGs in Karamoja where never considered on top of not having COVID-19 related messages printed and circulated in their indigenous languages.

Charles Matheso representing the Lendu people from Zombo district narrated the hard times that the Lendu people went through as a result of the lockdown measures that stopped them from crossing the border in Democratic Republic of Congo.

“As people living along the border, we could not access our relatives, plantations, business across the border; on top of this, we were never considered for the relief fund from the Prime Minister’s office,” Matheso said.

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