70,000 Maasai in Loliondo, Tanzania, face another forceful eviction
According to reliable information received by Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI) and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania is currently planning the eviction of the Maasai Indigenous people from a 1,500 km2 area in their ancestral land located in the Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region, east of the Serengeti National Park.
On 11 January 2022, the Regional Commissioner for Arusha, John Mongella, on behalf of the Government told leaders of the Maasai community in Loliondo that the Government is going to make tough decisions to remove the Maasai people from their 1,500 km2 area of village land any time in 2022, even if this will be painful to the Maasai. The Regional Commissioner held the meeting in Wasso town in Ngorongoro District headquarters with village and sub-village chairpersons, village and ward executive officers, and councilors.
Upon hearing about the land alienation plan, Maasai leaders refused to sign the list of participants of said meeting because they feared that it will be manipulated and claimed as their consent to relocate from their ancestral land. They also refused to accompany the Regional Commissioner and his entourage to visit the 1,500 km2 of disputed land.
The planned forceful eviction is a continuation of protracted attempts to clear the area to be leased to wildlife hunting firm Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC) owned by Dubai Royals.
If carried out, the outcome of the eviction will be the mass displacement of over 70,000 Maasai people and their more than 200,000 livestock. It should be stressed that Maasai pastoralists have legal recognition of this land and any attempts to evict them are unlawful, unjust and discriminatory under national law and the international human rights obligations and commitments of the Government of Tanzania. Furthermore, the Maasai have sustainably managed their landscape resulting in rich biodiversity, which will be undermined with the planned eviction.
The affected communities are therefore appealing to the Government of Tanzania to stop all eviction plans, fully protect their land and resource tenure security and to allow them to live in peace in their territory. They are also appealing to the international community to stand in solidarity with them and exert pressure on the Government of Tanzania to respect and protect their rights and dignity, instead of evicting them.