July 12, 2020

Brazil protects uncontacted indigenous people to keep them away from the coronavirus

The Brazilian government will keep uncontacted indigenous people in the Amazon isolated and will restrict the health or security services it eventually offers them, in a strategy to keep them away from the coronavirus, which can lead to their extinction, official sources reported on Monday.

The Public Ministry reported on Monday that the National Indian Foundation (Funai) decided to abide by its suggestions in this regard to guarantee the lives of uncontacted indigenous people.

The actions that the Government of President Jair Bolsonaro was carrying out through the Funai to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among the indigenous people will have to have the approval of the body in charge of the uncontacted peoples and can only be carried out in an “exceptional” manner by specialized technical personnel, as agreed with the Office of the Attorney General.

The new controls respond to a request from the Public Ministry that warned that trying to establish contact with these towns by instances “without legal and technical capacity” may “aggravate exposure to COVID-19 of communities that have little or no response capacity immunological to the virus. “

In this sense, the Office of the Attorney General asked Funai to prepare a contingency plan for outbreaks and epidemics, as well as to activate a situation room to support decision-making in relation to isolated or recently contacted indigenous peoples.

The recommendation of the Public Ministry came after the controversy generated by Funai when it determined that the “essential services” offered to isolated groups should be kept in the hands of people not qualified to care for and manage these communities, a management that, according to the Office of the Attorney General, must be in charge of the Coordination of Isolated Indians and Recent Contact.

Isolated indigenous peoples are populations that, to survive the contact promoted by man, take refuge in the jungle and live without any contact with society.

Diseases, physical violence, looting of natural resources, and other assaults have decimated entire populations in the past.

A study by the non-governmental organization Instituto Socio Ambiental (ISA) indicates that there are currently 115 isolated indigenous peoples in Brazil, 28 of which have been confirmed.

According to the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health, an entity attached to the Ministry of Health, there is no confirmation that the coronavirus is present in any of the 34 Special Districts of Indigenous Health (Dseis) in the country.

According to the latest report from the Ministry of Health, Brazil has 1,891 confirmed cases and 35 deaths from COVID-19.


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