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December 11, 2003Indigenous ICT. The paradox of discussing computer access for people locked in a daily struggle to survive was pointed out by indigenous peoples today.
"People are sick, starving they are fighting day to day to survive. That is the situation in many indigenous communities," said Mr Ole-Henrik Magga,
chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. "It's not a question of whether we use a computer or not, because there are
no computers. It is not a question of seeing a television, because there isn't one."
"Now we are knocking at the door of the information society and the question is, will we get in?" said Mr Magga, a member of the reindeer herding people of Northern Europe.
His organisation was only invited to WSIS a couple of months ago - severly curtailing any influence they could have in the run-up to the summit. Ms Mililani Trafk, Permanent Forum Member for the Pacific ,said the references to indigenous peoples they had fought to get added to summit documents have been removed for the final versions.
But she said their struggle to access ICTs would continue as they could bring "housing, food, health services and peace."