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Afro-Peruvians not getting vital aid despite being worst affected in Peru earthquake

22 August 2007

Minority Rights Group International on Wednesday expressed concern that one week after Peru’s deadly earthquake crucial humanitarian relief including food, water and medicine are still not reaching the country’s Afro-descendent community who were worst affected.

“People have lost their homes and are living in the street. They are starving without food and the most serious thing is that the government is doing nothing to help the Afro-Peruvians,” says Jorge Ramirez Reyner of ASONEDH, MRG’s partner in Peru working to promote Afro-descendents rights.

Last Wednesday, 15 August, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit Peru’s southern coast killing more than 500 people injuring over 1000. Some 34,000 homes were destroyed and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.

“When disaster strikes it is often minority communities such as the Afro-Peruvians who are the worst affected but nevertheless overlooked in aid distribution,” says the MRG Press Office MRG’s Head of International Advocacy.

According to aid agencies and local NGOs all humanitarian aid is channelled through the government and some Afro-Peruvian groups are accusing the government of excluding them from the process.

“MRG is calling on the government to reassess aid distribution so that Afro-descendents can get their rightful allocation,” Baldwin adds.

According to ASONEDH, the majority of those affected in the earthquake afflicted zones are Afro -Peruvians. Historically Afro-Peruvians have faced deep discrimination and prejudice. Reyner is calling on the government to urgently allocate more help to these worst affected communities.

Most of the aid is only getting to urban centres and because the earthquake severely damaged the road systems relief is not reaching rural areas, such as Alto Laran, Pueblo Nuevo, Guayavo, San Jose, and El Carmen, where most of these communities live.

“The government has not thought about these communities, although they are the most in need, there has never been infrastructural investment in these areas. We are not even considered within national indices on poverty, as a result we remain as the invisible poorest of the poor”. Reyner says.

“After the earthquake the Peruvian media portrayed blacks as looters and thieves, but they have lost everything and their suffering is being ignored,” he adds.

Notes to Editors

  • 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.
  • ASONEDH or Asociacion Negra de Defensa y Promocion de Los Derechos Humanos stands for The Black for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights.

For more information please contact the MRG Press Office, MRG’s Media Officer, on +44 (0) 7870596863 (mobile) or Ramirez Reyner on +51 1 97338282 (mobile) +51 1 4311183 (office) or [email protected]