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HUMANITARIAN AID REACHES INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS IN MARANHÃO

In October and November, CESE visited indigenous communities in the Amazon affected by fires in order to deliver emergency humanitarian aid from the Ecumenical Forum ACT Brazil.  The activity was supported by the ACT Alliance and was aimed at equipping indigenous firefighting brigades and providing the brigades with the means to inspect burnt areas vulnerable to invasions, as well as supplying families with food and drinking water.

   

CESE was contacted by the Coordination of Organizations and Coalitions of the Indigenous Peoples of Maranhão (Coordenação das Organizações e Articulações dos Povos Indígenas do Maranhão: COAPIMA) due to the spread of the fires across the state and threats to the survival of indigenous communities, who exclusively depend on the forest to survive.  For this reason, the indigenous peoples of Maranhão received the final instalment of humanitarian aid.  These peoples include: the Krikati People from the Krĩkati Indigenous Land in the southwest of the state; the Guajajara People from the Caru Indigenous Land in the north; the Araribóia Indigenous Land in the south of Maranhão; the Gavião Pykopjê People from the Governador Indigenous Land, also in the south; and the Canela Apanyekrá People from the Porquinhos Indigenous Land, in the central-west region of the state.

The brigades in these territories received support from the ACT Alliance for their families’ food security, in the purchase of food and water, and to strengthen the indigenous firefighting brigades, with equipment (blowers, brush-cutters, chainsaws, fire dampers, drip torches and fire pumps) and fuel to survey the area and prevent new outbreaks of fire.

The Krikati Indigenous Land is located across the Maranhão municipalities of Amarante do Maranhão, Lajeado Novo, Montes Altos, Ribamar Fiquene and Sítio Novo, and covers 145 thousand hectares.  The Krikati brigade is composed of 15 firefighters and led by a woman, Celiana Krikati, who is responsible for the protection of 1016 indigenous people who live in this territory.

The Caru Indigenous Land is an area inhabited by the Guajajara, Awá Guajá (a recently contacted people) and isolated peoples from Igarapés Presídio and Juruti. It covers 173 thousand hectares and is inhabited by 400 indigenous peoples.  Fifteen firefighters received support from the ACT Alliance for fire prevention, monitoring and fighting across the region.

The Araribóia Indigenous Land was one of the most noteworthy in Maranhão.  The territory, which covers 413 thousand hectares, suffered four outbreaks of fire at the beginning of November.  According to the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais: INPE), flames destroyed 5,000 hectares, the equivalent of 5 thousand football pitches.  As reported by the G1 News Portal on the 9 November (https://g1.globo.com/ma/maranhao/noticia/2019/11/09/incendio-em-terra-indigena-arariboia-e-controlado-anuncia-ibama.ghtml – in Portuguese), the fire was started following the death of the indigenous leader Paulo Paulino Guajajara.  The case remains under investigation, but one of the main suspicions is that the flames were caused by loggers who work in the region.

The Gavião Pykopjê, located on a strip of land covering approximately 41,644 hectares in the municipality of Amarante, also suffered the impacts of fires in the Brazilian Amazon.  This area includes the Governador Indigenous Land, which also contains Guajajara villages.  The Act Alliance humanitarian aid reached 15 firefighters in the form of equipment, food and drinking water.  Similarly, the Canela Apanyekrá People from the Porquinhos Indigenous Land, which covers 80 thousand hectares and contains 677 indigenous people, received baskets of staple foods, as well as equipment to survey the area and prevent new outbreaks of fire.

CESE monitored the entire process of aid for these traditional populations, relying on its partnership with COAPIMA.

 

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