Several native leaders in the Amazon have called Friday for international help in the face of the absence of structures, including medical, which makes them vulnerable to the new coronavirus, and warned of a risk of ” ethnocide “, the disappearance of their communities.
“There are no doctors in our communities, there is no equipment of prevention the face of this pandemic (…) there is no support in terms of food,” said Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, of the Coordination of indigenous organizations of the amazon basin (Coica).
During a video-conference, in conjunction with Amnesty International, the indigenous leaders complained of the little assistance given by the governments of the region, in spite of the spread of the covid-19.
They called for an “international humanitarian aid” to prevent a ” ethnocide throughout the amazon basin “, according to Mr. Diaz Mirabal.
He also denounced the fact that the operators mining and forestry illegal benefited from the containment, imposed in several of these countries, to act in any “impunity” and expose communities to the contagion.
According to the Coida, which is native to nine countries sharing the largest tropical forest in the world (Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Surinam, Guayana, French Guyanna), there is no global registry of cases of contamination among the indians.
A month ago, a spokesperson for Coica, Claudette Labonte, had called for a better protection against the invasion of the indigenous territories of the Amazon by minors, drug traffickers, loggers, hoarders of land and tourists.
“The natives who live in voluntary isolation are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases, the fact that they have no impunity in the face of the majority of these ills “, she declared to the AFP.
Native americans are critical custodians of biodiversity, a role acknowledged by the IPCC, a group of UN experts on climate change.
If the rate of deforestation of indigenous lands is only half that in other areas, they are also endangered as a result of the illegal exploitation of their resources, as well as by large agricultural projects supported by the governments.
At least 60% of the amazon rain forest is located on the territory of Brazil, the country most affected by the new coronavirus in Latin America.