'Step up measure to protect Jarawas'

Published: Wednesday 15 November 2006

-- (Credit: SURVIVAL)The Indian government should step in to protect the Jarawa tribe of the Andaman islands, who are now in danger of being wiped out by settlers invading their territory, said activists of Survival International. The London-based human rights group working for indigenous people held a vigil in front of the Indian High Commissioner's offices in London and in Paris. The activists demanded the closure of the Andaman Trunk Road, which runs through the isolated forest reserve of the indigenous tribe.

The road is bringing in outsiders and threatening both the health and genetic integrity of the Jarawas, who have so far avoided contracting modern diseases. A recent Indian government report too notes that the tribe is being threatened by increasing contact with outsiders. In September 2006, Survival had submitted a petition asking the Indian government to close the controversial road; but it remains open.India has a stark choice it can secure the future of the vulnerable tribe or let it vanish, said Stephen Corry, director of Survival. The Jarawas, whose population is now 306, first migrated to the Andamans 60,000 years ago.

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