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MRG launches new online ‘Trouble in Paradise’ campaign calling for tourism industry to respect indigenous rights in Kenya

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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is re-launching the online Trouble in Paradise campaign, in support of the Endorois, an indigenous community from Kenya, evicted from their ancestral lands to make way for a game reserve in the 1970s.

The online campaign aims to collect 5,000 signatures for a petition urging the Kenyan government and tour operators to guarantee and protect the Endorois’ traditional way of life.

The petition states that the Endorois have clear rights to live on their lands, insists that they should fully benefit from the lucrative tourism conducted there and be compensated adequately for the eviction from their one-time home.

Wilson Kipkazi, Secretary of the Endorois Welfare Council, says, “The launch of the Trouble in Paradise online campaign is a milestone for the Endorois community’s struggle to be recognized as a people who have a right to the natural resources on their land.”

“The world is a global village, and to address these issues online will expose human rights violations against indigenous peoples which have been committed with impunity,” he adds.

The Endorois are a community of approximately 60, 000 indigenous semi-nomadic pastoralists, who have lived on the shores of Lake Bogoria and in the Monchongoi forest in the Rift Valley for centuries. They were once able to migrate between these two traditional sites with the seasons, but are now forced to live permanently on a strip of semi-arid land, unable to sustain their cattle-rearing livelihood.

In 2007 tourism accounted for 10 percent of Kenya’s GDP. The largest number of tourists visiting Kenya hail from the UK, followed by Germany, Italy and France.

MRG believes that we all have a responsibility to practice not just eco-tourism, but ethical tourism – so that minorities and indigenous people are not evicted to make way for holidaymakers on game reserves or pristine beaches.

“Tourists often travel content in the knowledge that their holidays protect endangered species, and their tourism helps to boost the local economy. They rarely wonder who lived on the land before they arrived there, where the original custodians of the land have disappeared to, or at what cost,” says Cynthia Morel, MRG’s Senior Legal Officer.

Today, the vast majority of the Endorois live in severe poverty and struggle to pay for school fees – few children are educated above primary level. They have little or no electricity, are consistently dependent on relief food and must often walk long distances to fetch water.

With support from MRG’s lawyers, the Endorois have taken their case to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. The Commission is a legal body which monitors the implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified by Kenya in 1992. A ruling is expected in late 2008.

Notes to Editors

To arrange an interview with Wilson Kipkazi of the Endorois Welfare Council (English, Kiswahili) or Cynthia Morel, MRG’s Senior Legal Officer (English, French, Spanish), please contact:

Emma Eastwood, MRG Media Officer
T: +44 (0) 207 4224205
M: +44 (0) 7989699984
E: press@minorityrights.org

Statistics on tourism in Kenya from the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism.

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide

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