Home Sci-TechEnvironment Congo-Kinshasa: DR Congo Using Covid to Exploit Environment, Indigenous Rights Threatened – Report

Congo-Kinshasa: DR Congo Using Covid to Exploit Environment, Indigenous Rights Threatened – Report

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The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to backtrack on environmental safeguards, which is impacting on the rights of indigenous people, according to a report published on Thursday.

“Indigenous peoples have protested against actions by states that have used the crisis as an excuse to erode their rights while failing to provide indigenous peoples with the support and assistance they need to deal with the pandemic,” said Joan Carling, head of Indigenous Peoples Rights International.

Forest Peoples Programme report said authorities in Kinshasa had dolled out timber concessions during the pandemic, despite a moratorium, handing out timber rights to Chinese corporations that started logging in 2021.

Covid-19 has impacted economic activity across the world and FPP fears governments will try to boost extractive industries to make up for lost economic growth, directly threatening people who live in forests, such as the indigenous Batwa in DRC.

The FPP report published on Thursday also outlines how indigenous people in DRC have been locked out of consultations with the government. The coronavirus lockdown in the country also effectively stopped them from making a living, stopping them from selling farm produce at markets.

In particular, President Felix Tshisekedi’s government went ahead and approved the National Land-Use Planning Policy (PNAT) during the Covid-19 crisis, although communications with forest communities was next to impossible given the health measures in place.