Landloss threat ends as African Parks withdraws from Ethiopia
African Parks Foundation (now known as African Parks Network) of the Netherlands has announced it will withdraw from its lease of the Omo and Nech Sar National Parks, Ethiopia, by October, 2008.
Human rights organizations had voiced concern that African Park's plans to manage the Omo National Park would have evicted tribal people from their ancestral land, or caused them to lose access to vital agricultural and grazing land. Seven tribes, the Suri, Dizi, Me'en, Nyangatom, Kwegu, Bodi, and Mursi, live in or use the land designated as the Omo Park, for subsistence resources. An estimated 40,000 people use park resources.
In a statement released by African Parks in December, 2007, they cited the actions of human rights organizations and possible "legal challenges from one party or other" in their reasons for withdrawing from the Omo Park.
The Mursi are relieved by the news, 'Now that African Parks are leaving, everything is well. Our cattle will graze along with the Dik-Diks, Zebra and Warthogs. If our land is taken, it is like taking our lives.'
Furthermore, APF's withdrawal from Nech Sar National Park will mean a contractual obligation stipulated by APF, for the government to remove the Guji tribe, will not be carried out.
Native Solutions to Conservation Refugees has advocated for the rights of the local communities in and around the Omo Park since January, 2006. Native Solutions director, Will Hurd, lived with the Mursi in their territory, for one year.
Read the article about this victory in the Burlington Free Press.
Link to APF's withdrawal statement:
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