More than 4500 Indigenous Children Suffer from Malnutrition because of Forced Displacement: Camawari

( Translated by Dan Baird, a CSN volunteer translator)

Source:  Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento [Advisory Body on Human Rights and Displacement] (CODHES) <

Date: 26 June 2009

Bogotá, Prensa CODHES, 26/06/2009.

The Cabilde Mayor [Main  Council] of the indigenous people  Awá of Nariño  Camawari  has reported that between 4500 and 5000 children of both sexes
are suffering from malnutrition through  the hardships they have suffered because of being forcibly displaced.

The indigenous leader Jorge Silvio Hernández explained that, traditionally, members of the  Awá people have always been fed on their own lands with produce that is natural to, and typical of, the regions where they live. But, since they have been forced out of their places of origin, their ways of eating have been changed.

He said:  “For example, maize is grown in our lands and that’s natural food.  Now, however, here in the situation where we are displaced, we have to eat tinned tuna and sardines, rice, and other food that isn’t part of our traditional diet.  And that’s what’s affected our children so badly.”

According to Camawari, the problem of malnutrition among the children of the  Awá people in Nariño has already been reported to Government departments, at both regional and national level, but until now there has been no reply.

Hernández adds:  “Unfortunately, there’s been no reply of any kind.  And it isn’t only on malnutruition.  We’ve also got 115 families waiting in the county seat at  Ricaurte (Nariño) who are asking for land and production plans so that they can produce their own food – and there’s been no reply to that either.”

There are more than 12000 Awá indigenous people of  Nariño, a large number of whom have been displaced many times because of being caught in crossfire between the Security Forces and other armed groups present in the area. Many of them, also, have fled from their places of origin in search of refuge, because of mining in their communities and because their leaders have been threatened and killed. Some families have even crossed the border into  Ecuador and have been there since 2005.

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