- Title: HONDURAS: Afro-Latinos demand end to discrimination
- Date: 20th August 2011
- Summary: PARTICIPANTS AT SUMMIT
- Embargoed: 4th September 2011 13:00
- Location: Honduras
- Country: Honduras
- Reuters ID: LVAC073V8RAYJ09MKBC887UQ2IBT
- Story Text: The first ever World Summit of African Descendants kicked off in the small Central American nation of Honduras on Thursday (August 18) with some 800 participants from more than 70 countries across the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe urging governments in the region to do more to fight rampant racism and discrimination faced by the large minority group across Latin America.
Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom joined summit host and Honduran President Porfirio Lobo to launch the U.N. sponsored conference into the socioeconomic conditions of African descendants across Latin America and the world. Organisers hope that delegates will formulate a declaration to guarantee the right to education, housing and employment for the community and establish an action plan to address high rates of poverty.
"In 1948, the United Nations said that all men were born equal in dignity and rights. We should do something so the world, as President Colom has expressed, reinforces and fulfills this, it is a commitment for all," said Honduran President Porfirio Lobo.
The United Nations estimates that approximately 150 million African descendants live throughout Latin America, accounting for about one third of the total population and making it one of the largest minorities in the region. However, the health statistics of Afro-descendants in the region remain grim, with infant mortality and HIV infection rates higher than the rest of the population.
With international organisations the world over expressing support for the summit, participants hope that the momentum for positive change for African descendants has never been stronger.
"The creation of the United Nations, the Organisation of American States, the System for the Integration of Central American States and other international organisations," exclaimed the President of the Black Fraternity for the Garifuna minority of Honduras, Casildo Alvarez.
Residing mainly in rural areas with poor infrastructure and health facilities, Afro-Latinos suffer from high unemployment and low income and account for 40 percent of the poorest people in the region.
With the world's first Summit of African Descendants especially timed to coincide with the United Nation's International Year of African Descendants, officials are hopeful that the conference will become an annual event.
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