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90% of world’s languages will disappear in 100 years: UN

A UN report on the state of the world's indigenous peoples Thursday said about 90 percent of the world's languages which are spoken by indigenous peoples may be extinct in the next 100 years.

It further said indigenous peoples across the globe suffer from disproportionately high rates of poverty, health problems, crime and human rights abuse.

"There are between 6,000 to 7,000 oral languages in the world today. Around 97 percent of the world's population speaks four percent of its languages, while only three percent speaks 96 percent of them. A great majority of them are in danger of becoming extinct," the report, which was released Thursday, said.

It said roughly 90 per cent of all languages spoken by indigenous peoples might disappear in the next 100 years.

One of the main reasons for the dying out of languages is that they are no longer passed from one generation to the next and governments are not doing enough to record or revitalise them.

"Worldwide more than 50 percent of indigenous adults suffer from type 2 diabetes - a number predicted to rise," the report said.

"While indigenous peoples make up around 370 million of the world's population - some 5 percent - they constitute around one-third of the world's 900 million extremely poor rural people. Poor nutrition and limited access to care and resources result in indigenous people's life expectancy to be 20 years lower than their non-indigenous counterparts," it added.

An indigenous population is any ethnic group of people who inhabit a geographic region with which they have the earliest known historical connection, alongside more recent immigrants who have populated the region and may be greater in number.

The report went on to say that one of the biggest threats facing the indigenous peoples in any part of the world is displacement.

"When indigenous peoples have tried to assert their rights (during displacement) they have suffered physical abuse, torture and even death," the report said, quoting such instances in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hawaii, Rwanda, Colombia and Congo.

Climate change further threatens the indigenous peoples' existence since it has socio-economic implications.


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