, BRAZZAVILLE, Apr 12 – A conference aimed at protecting the rights of central Africa\’s pygmies has been shelved because governments are too busy to discuss their fate, a Congolese official said here Monday.
The Republic of Congo was to host an international forum this week at which more than 500 people were expected, including UN representatives, politicians and pygmies.
However, the official said the meeting "has been postponed because of the overly busy agendas of governments and partners," adding that it had been rescheduled to next February.
"There are plenty of other reasons, which could be of a financial nature," the official at the forest economy ministry added.
Often marginalised, pygmies are nomads who live in the great forests of central Africa, where the Congo basin is recognised as vital to the planet as the second largest natural source of oxygen after the Amazon rainforest.
About three million pygmies are estimated to live in the Congo basin.
Forest Economy Minister Henri Djombo said last week that the aim of the meeting was "to elaborate and adopt a plan of action to protect the rights and emancipation of the indigenous people of Central Africa".
"The indigenous peoples (pygmies) are players who live with biodiversity and work to manage it in durable fashion. We have much to learn from them and should be humble to go to their school," Djombo said before the conference was postponed.