Amazon: the Indians and the Covid-19 threat
In Brazil, the coronavirus advances at an exponential rate: the South American country is the second largest number of infections after the United States (over 350 thousand positive and with 22 thousand dead). Megacities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are affected, especially in the poorest neighborhoods and favelas, where basic services are often lacking and water arrives only a few times a day. But the biggest concern now concerns i indigenous peoples, especially those who live in most remote territories of the Amazon, reachable only after many days of travel and totally without hospitals, rescue points and medicines. In addition, the capital of the state of Amazonas, Manaus, is experiencing the collapse of health facilities and cemeteries, as a consequence of the denialist attitude of the Brazilian federal government president Jair Bolsonaro. Beds, respirators and supplies are missing.
In the forests of the Amazon, among the tribes that live along the rivers and inland, the advance of the virus is taking on the contours of an announced genocide. In the Rio Jauaperi region, for example, an uncontaminated area, located 400 km from Manaus, 90 percent of indigenous villages and settlements report cases of infection and deaths: all underestimated, because there are no tests and swabs and because communications are very difficult.
Without immediate action, the consequences could have unimaginable proportions. As can be read on the association website Amazonia Onlus, founded by biologist Emanuela Evangelista (one of the civil heroes awarded by President Mattarella last December), “COVID-19 represents a mortal threat to the indigenous people of the Amazon. The small villages are isolated and accessible only by boat, have no food trade, healthcare is almost nil and drugs are often not available. This makes the local population extremely vulnerable in case of infection. “
To try to buffer the spread of infection, nonprofits like Amazonia Onlus and Amazon Charitable Trust are organizing fundraisers to finance missions that can bring food, basic necessities and medical care to the Indians (on their pages, you can find all the information to donate).
Their work also found an international sounding board in the appeal launched online by the photographer Sabastião Salgado who, with many other famous people, sent a petition to the Brazilian government: at this link you can read and sign it.
Another initiative to report is that ofAmazon Emergency Fund, a new collaboration that works in close coordination with COICA (coordination body of indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin) and other partners all over the world (including Artists for Amazonia), for the Covid-19 emergency. It is hosted by the American Rainforest Foundation and directly supports rapid grants for prevention and assistance, for food and medical supplies, emergency communications and evacuation, protection and safety of forest rangers, community resilience.
The opening photo is by Sebastião Salgado, from the Instagram @ 2020indigenas account