French Guiana villagers seek UN help to stop solar project


French Guiana villagers seek UN help to stop solar project

by AFP Staff Writers

Geneva (AFP) Mar 15, 2024

Indigenous villagers in French Guiana called Friday on UN bodies to intervene to stop the construction of a solar power plant they fear will harm their way of life.

The Organisation of Indigenous Nations of French Guiana and the International Service for Human Rights said they filed requests on behalf of the villagers with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to intervene with French authorities to halt construction of the plant.

They said the construction of the West Guiana Power Plant project (CEOG) located just two kilometres (1.2 miles) from Prosperite village occupied by the indigenous Kalina people, will see the destruction of more than 70 hectares (173 acres) of forest used for hunting, fishing and agriculture.

“By persisting with this project in this form and in this location, the French Republic is trampling our identity and endangering our way of life and the future of our peoples,” indigenous traditional chief Roland Sjabere was quoted as saying in a statement.

The villagers say they don’t completely oppose the project, which would provide electricity to 10,000 homes, but are unhappy with its location right outside their village.

Construction began in November 2022 but was halted after several months during the rainy season. Forest-clearing resumed in mid-August last year under heavy police protection.

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