Yanomami area in Brazil threatened: ‘There is not enough food for us’

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NOS News
  • Nina Jurna

    correspondent South America

Hundreds of men, women and children of the indigenous Yanomami people in the Amazon are being taken care of in an emergency hospital in the town of Boa Vista. Many have malaria and are malnourished, babies have diarrhea and worms. With a major rescue operation, Brazilian soldiers and aid workers try to bring as many weakened and emaciated Yanomami from their territory to the city, where they receive help and care.

At least 570 Yanomami children have died of malnutrition in the past four years, and thousands have contracted malaria, according to indigenous organizations. The main cause of the humanitarian crisis are the so-called garimpeiros, illegal gold diggers who invade the area of ​​the Yanomami. They destroy and deforest entire areas. For gold mining they use mercury and other chemicals that poison the rivers, lakes and fish.

The Yanomami live mainly from hunting and fishing. They live in the north in the Amazon, near the border with Venezuela. Their area is the largest indigenous territory in Brazil. It is about the size of Portugal. They live there with 30,000 people. Due to the destruction of their territory, food has become increasingly scarce.

Although gold mining and food scarcity in the area are not new, the crisis has deepened under the previous president Jair Bolsonaro. The number of prospectors in the area has exploded in the past four years, from 5,000 to 25,000. Bolsonaro wanted to increase economic activity in the Amazon and has shown this repeatedly during his reign. He gave illegal prospectors free reign to enter the protected area of ​​the indigenous people and to fully engage in gold mining.

Some 800 Yanomami indigenous people were brought to Boa Vista in an army rescue last week, including Bery and Marykynha:

Yanomami threatened: ‘Our entire area is destroyed and polluted’

Indigenous leaders and health organizations have repeatedly raised the alarm with Bolsonaro’s government in recent years. According to them, Bolsonaro looked away and the situation also worsened because significant cuts were made to health clinics and doctors in the area.

In recent months, more and more images have emerged that underline the seriousness of the malnutrition and the health crisis. After taking office on January 1, 2023, President Lula decided to tackle the crisis energetically. He recently traveled to the area to take a closer look for himself. Then he accused Bolsonaro of genocide.

Bolsonaro was already in the United States before the transfer of power, but has announced he will return next month. He posted on social media that he and his government “have done a lot for the indigenous people.” Justice wants to investigate to what extent Bolsonaro can be held responsible for the humanitarian disaster.

Meanwhile, the first major action of the army and the environmental police has started, to evict the thousands of gold diggers from the area.

  • Abroad

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