Loss of life due to COVID-19 in Brazil has not stopped rising. This week, a total of 60 thousand deaths were recorded, while infections around the country have now moved inland. Indigenous people are one of the worst affected by the spread of the pandemic, given the social and economic vulnerabilities to which they are subject and the historic violation of the right to their ancestral lands.
According to official numbers published by the Ministry of Health’s Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Secretaria Especial de Saúde Indígena: SESAI), 171 indigenous people have died and 7,598 been infected by the disease (data from 4 July). However, records from indigenous organizations describe a more concerning picture: 426 deaths and 11,385 infected, reaching 124 peoples by 5 July. This data comes from the National Committee for Indigenous Life and Memory: APOINME | ARPIN SUDESTE | ARPINSUL | COIAB | Guarani Yvyrupa Commission| Terena People’s Council | ATY GUASU | Indigenous Quarantine Observatory.
One of the major factors for infection is increasing criminal contact with the non-indigenous (such as loggers), who invade original people’s lands. In April, deforestation in the Amazon reached its highest peak for the last ten years, with 529 km² of the forest felled. This data comes from the Deforestation Alert System (Sistema de Alerta de Desmatamento: SAD), of the Institute of People and the Environment of the Amazon (Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia: IMAZON). Last month the region experienced an increase in deforestation of 171%, compared to April 2019.
It is no coincidence that the Amazon is the region with the highest number of indigenous people infected with COVID-19.
International humanitarian aid
Aware of this scenario, the ACT Alliance has made its contribution to care, protection and resistance, particularly of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. With coordination in Brazil undertaken by CESE, donations of staple food baskets and hygiene kits for the various ethnicities in the North, Central-West and South regions is underway. Of a total planned purchase of 4,200 baskets, 3,350 units have already been acquired (with BRL 334,999.19 invested by 6 July).
Essential items such as food, hygiene products and 70% alcohol hand sanitizer have been received by the following Nations: Tenharim, Parintitin, Jiahui (South of the Amazon/Madeira); Apurinã and Jamamadi from Boca do Acre (Amazon); Jaminawa Arara, Shanenawa, Madijá, Nukini and Noke Koí /Katukina (Acre); Tenetehara (Guajajara), Krikati and Gavião (Maranhão – southern region); Arara and Gavião – IT Igarapé Lourdes (Rondônia); Guarani (Rio Grande do Sul); Munduruku, Arapiun, Borari, Tupaiú, Arara Vermelha and Tapajós (Tapajós /Pará); Pakaa Nova, Makurap, Sakurabiat (Rondônia); Guarani Kaiowá (Mato Grosso do Sul); Kokama, Ticuna, Waikuru, Apurinã, Karuara (Manaus and surroundings); Sateré Mawé (Manaus); Tukano, Dessano, Arapasso, Baré, Mirititapui, Piratapuia, Tuyuka, Wanano, Karapana, Tariano (Manaus).
“We would like to say thank you for our sensitivity and generosity in contributing during the difficult period our country and the Amazon State is going through, with the spread of the coronavirus. Indigenous people are in the risk group. Indigenous women are particularly vulnerable. This is a moment of great struggle. These are the women warriors who care for families. Our pain and agony are transformed into a fight for the right to our living”, asserted and resisted Clarice Tukano from the Alto Rio Negro Association of Indigenous Women (Associação das Mulheres Indígenas do Alto Rio Negro: AMARN).
CESE relied on essential support for local distribution from the following partners: the International Institute of Education of Brazil (Instituto Internacional de Educação do Brasil: IEB); Council of Mission among Indians (Conselho de Missão entre Povos Indígenas: COMIN) / Lutheran Foundation of Diakonia (Fundação Luterana de Diaconia: FLD); Pro-Indian Commission of Acre (Comissão Pró-Índio do Acre: CPI-AC); Coordination of Organizations and Coalitions of the Indigenous Peoples of Maranhão (Coordenação das Organizações e Articulações dos Povos Indígenas do Maranhão: COAPIMA); Tapajós Indigenous Council (Conselho Indígena Tapajós: CITA); Association of Ethno-environmental Defence – Kanindé; Indigenous Missionary Council (Conselho Indigenista Missionário: CIMI-MS); Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira: COIAB)/Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Manaus and Surroundings (Coordenação dos Povos Indígenas de Manaus e Entorno: COPIME); Association of Sateré Mawé Indigenous Women (Associação das Mulheres Indígenas Sateré Mawé: AMISM); and AMARN.