We, Indigenous Peoples, and the wider civil society, call on governments, the United Nations, and the international community to urgently heed the global and persistent call for an immediate, adequate and culturally-appropriate response to help Indigenous Peoples communities in the time of this COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has disproportionately affected Indigenous Peoples and is exacerbating the underlying structural inequalities and discrimination against them.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reported in 2020 that “In the COVID-19 pandemic, Indigenous Peoples have already reported alarming levels of transmission among their communities and sometimes higher rates of fatalities.” The onslaught of the Delta variant has severely aggravated the situation of Indigenous Peoples, and has not spared even those communities that have effectively employed traditional measures to prevent or adequately address the pandemic. Indigenous Peoples now intensely fear for their lives as their traditional systems are proving insufficient to combat the ferocity of the lethal Delta variant in addition the negative impacts of restrictions and other discriminatory measures. Indigenous Peoples, especially the younger generation, are dying at an alarming rate due to the Delta variant. “Our younger generations are dying, especially with the Delta variant. Some of our communities do not have any access to vaccines or health care, and some have zero knowledge about the virus, and how to address it”, said Rukka Sombolinggi, an indigenous person from Indonesia.