COVID-19 measures threaten lifestyle of the North’s indigenous people

In Norway, Sweden and Finland, the Sámi population is estimated to be between 60,000 and 100,000, while the community residing in Russia is only about 2,000-strong. [EPA-EFE/TERJE PEDERSEN]

Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia should take into account and respect the rights and lifestyle of the indigenous Sámi people living in their northern territories when implementing COVID-19 measures and closing borders, according to a statement published on 15 January by the Sámi Council, an NGO founded in 1956.

Although measures to curb the coronavirus have, in many cases, been appropriate, there have nonetheless been serious consequences for the fundamental rights of the Sámi, the statement read. Many families reside and work across state borders and traditional reindeer husbandry has become increasingly difficult.

The Council, which is also calling for equal treatment, questioned why families living in cross-border areas with low infection rates up north are denied the right to meet with families in the south and carry on with their traditional life and business, while people from highly infected areas in the south are allowed to travel up north.

In Norway, Sweden and Finland, the Sámi population is estimated at between 60,000 and 100,000, while the community residing in Russia is only about 2,000-strong.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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