Forum on People of African Descent: Govt refutes discrimination, marginalisation claims by IDPADA-G

– tells Forum African organisations under IDPADA-G not benefiting from $500M Govt funding

The Government of Guyana has rejected allegations made by representatives of IDPADA-G at the 3rd Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva, Switzerland.
On Tuesday, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, who represents the local International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly Guyana (IDPADA-G), told the Committee that Afro-Guyanese in Guyana are facing discrimination and marginalisation.

Minister Oneidge Walrond speaking at the closing session on Friday

“Unfortunately, the United Nations’ calls have not been heeded by the Government of Guyana, which has resulted in the perpetuation of an identity crisis, non-recognition, injustices, and underdevelopment of people of African descent. This adds to systemic discrimination. In Guyana, even the courtesy of a meeting with the Government to advocate for a plan of action for the decade, and the introduction of the history of people of African descent into the school curriculum in particular, has been denied,” Hughes told the forum.
Hughes further reported that the Government is seeking to decimate against IDPADA-G by defunding the organization without merit or justification.
However, speaking during the Closing Session on Friday, the leader of the Government of Guyana delegation, Oneidge Walrond, described the allegations made at the Forum by the IDPADA-GY representatives as false and baseless.
“Our truth is that African Guyanese organizations under IDPADA-G’s umbrella complained to us that they were not receiving benefits from the $500 million the Government of Guyana provided to IDPADA-G. Our truth is that we found that the money the Government provided was substantially consumed by administrative overheads. We therefore opted to provide financing directly to the beneficiary organizations, who are in turn free to pay over to IDPADA-G if they think IDPADA-G worthy of their confidence,” Minister Walrond told the Forum.

She said it is expected that the United Nations and its institutions, as objective and impartial observers, would draw their conclusions.
“It is self-evident that institutions of the UN can only be successful if they enjoy the confidence of all legitimate stakeholders, including member states and representatives of civil society. It is thus imperative that those entrusted with mandates from the Secretary-General take care, lest by their words and actions they impair the confidence that we must all be able to place in the institutions of the United Nations,” the minister said.
The minister reiterated the Government of Guyana’s unwavering commitment and support to the Forum and its work towards realizing full respect for the human rights of people of African descent everywhere.
During his presentation, Commissioner Neaz Subhan of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) told the gathering that IDPADA-G has never filed a complaint of discrimination with the commission.
While acknowledging the ongoing challenges faced by people of African descent worldwide in the recognition and practise of their culture, Subhan has said he remains encouraged by the continuous support provided by the Government of Guyana to various organizations and communities of people of African descent.
He highlighted that over $1.8 billion has been distributed in the last three years to promote and preserve culture, and develop sports infrastructure, with the International Decade of People of African Descent Assembly–Guyana (IDPADA-G) receiving the largest allocation: $360 million.
In 2023, the Government launched the Association of People of African Descent (APAD) to foster unity among Afro-Guyanese communities, drive positive social change, and empower all members to actively participate in shaping Guyana’s future. The association’s mission is to bring together Afro-Guyanese organisations, create a cooperative community, and eventually develop into a full-fledged representative body which would work alongside the Government to achieve its mandate.
Moreover, last year, the Guyana Government handed over some $63 million in funds to 35 African cultural groups in Guyana for projects in a wide variety of sectors, as well as for initiatives that seek to empower women. Each group got just over $1.8 million.
The groups that received funding had previously submitted proposals for projects in several areas, including in agriculture and purchasing of agricultural equipment; business; cultural training in drumming, teaching craft, cooking traditional foods, and garment construction, among other areas. Some groups had also committed to work in literacy, women’s empowerment, and education in African and Afro-Guyanese history.
Distribution of the grants had occurred on the heels of the Guyana Government halting funding to the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly–Guyana (IDPADA-G), having cited the mismanaging of funds.
Instead, the Government has decided to distribute the money directly to the African cultural groups to achieve the objectives of the decade.