COLOMBIA: New diseases effect Nomads
COLOMBIA: New diseases hit nomads as government stands by 17 Nov 2006
The nomadic Nukak-Maku, one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes in the world, has been hit by tuberculosis and chicken pox, putting their survival at serious risk.
The Nukak are camped on the edge of a town and are pleading with the government to be allowed to return to their homes in the rainforest, which they fled after becoming caught in the crossfire of Colombiaâs drugs war.
The tuberculosis and chicken pox follow a flu epidemic which affected almost a quarter of the tribe, the death of a nine year old boy, and the suicide of Nukak leader, Mao-be. Mao-be is believed to have been in despair at the failure of the government to arrange for his people to return home.
Since first being contacted by outsiders in 1988, when they numbered 1200, the Nukak have, like all isolated tribes, been very vulnerable to disease. Today just 500 survive; the rest have died from diseases such as malaria and flu.