Indigenous people demand emergency measures to prevent COVID-19 in the Amazon

Brazilian indigenous people published a manifesto on Thursday demanding that the government of President Jair Bolsonaro take emergency measures to combat the "very serious scenario" caused by COVID-19 and curb its expansion in the Amazon.

Under the umbrella of the Permanent National Forum in Defense of the Amazon, a total of 115 entities representing indigenous peoples came together to warn the authorities of the "need" to adopt prevention and assistance measures in the face of the coronavirus health crisis.

"We depend on the political will and competence of the rulers to mitigate the damage of this pandemic," warns the manifesto, released a day after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in an indigenous woman in the state of Amazonas.

Being the "most vulnerable" communities and with "less material capacity to make a" self-protection ", the institutions demand the creation of a Virtual Committee that, coordinated by the Presidency of the Republic, proposes" measures, policies and programs in favor of forest populations. "

Specifically, they call for a "contingency plan for outbreaks and epidemics", taking into account the "specificities" of their peoples and their "community ways of life, which undoubtedly facilitate the rapid spread of the virus."

In this sense, they demand to equip the communities with equipment and sanitary material to "avoid displacement to cities already affected by the virus," as well as sending "basic baskets with food for the most vulnerable families."

"We require international organizations, mainly the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the availability of tests of a special and urgent nature," added the manifesto.

The peoples of the Amazon are also demanding a set of economic measures for the duration of the pandemic, such as the suspension of bills for essential electricity and water services, as well as monthly financial aid to families who benefit from social programs.

Lastly, they ask the authorities to prohibit access to indigenous territories by people "not authorized or linked to basic assistance services," especially tourists.

According to the latest balance of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the country has registered around 250 deaths and around 7,000 cases of coronaviruses, including that of a 20-year-old indigenous woman of the Kokama ethnic group, in the state of Amazonas (north).


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