The Indigenous Peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are estimated to number around 660,000 people out of a total population of approx 65 million, i.e. 1% of the Congolese population.
Most indigenous peoples, often referred to as 'pygmies', live in the forest and depend on it for their survival. As a direct result of historical and ongoing expropriation of indigenous lands for conservation and logging, many have been forced to abandon their traditional way of life and culture based on hunting and gathering and become landless squatters living on the fringes of settled society. Some have been forced into relationships of bonded labour with Bantu “masters”.
Indigenous peoples’ overall situation is considerably worse than the national population: they experience inferior living conditions and poor access to services such as health and education. Their participation in the DRC’s social and political affairs is low, and they encounter discrimination in various forms, including racial stereotyping, social exclusion and systematic violations of their rights.
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