UN asks China to suspend resettlement of Tibetan nomads

Dharamsala : The UN has asked China to suspend non-voluntary resettlement of Tibetan nomadic herders from their traditional lands and to support them with rural extension programmes.

UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter, in his report, has asked China to “allow for meaningful consultations to take place with the affected communities”, said a post on the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) website.

The resettlement policy conducted in the Tibet Autonomous Region has expanded to non-herders, and is also aimed at relocating a majority of the Tibetan rural population into newly-built concentrated settlements under the “Comfortable Housing” policy.

Schutter said China must improve employment opportunities, education and health services in “new socialist” villages, in order to enable the realisation of the Right to Adequate Food of all resettled rural habitants.

The nomads and herders have to give up herding and farming revenues, and consequently lose economic independence. This results in loss of land, limited ability to keep livestock, relocation in areas unsuitable to agriculture, and generally a disruption of traditional patterns of livelihood, said the report.

China is a signatory of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and is hence prohibited from depriving any individual from his/her means of subsistence.

One of the reasons given by the Chinese authorities for the resettlement policy has been the overgrazing of grasslands.

However, the report said: “Climate change is most probably the main driver of environmental changes on the Tibetan plateau. Mining is another driver of land degradation in some areas”.

The Tibetan government-in-exile based here has also expressed concern over degradation of the Tibetan Plateau due to extensive mineral extraction, deforestation and unscientific construction of highways and railways by the Chinese in the name of development.

The report titled “A synthesis of recent science and Tibetan research on climate change” said the temperature increase on the Tibetan plateau is twice the global average, resulting in quicker degradation of permafrost, drastic changes in climate patterns and desertification of vast grasslands.

The Dalai Lama along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.

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