Social Issues

Belongings found in search for missing men in Brazilian Amazon

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jun 13 (EFE).- Firefighters on Sunday found a backpack with a laptop and other personal items in the area where officials are searching for a British journalist and a Brazilian indigenous expert who went missing a week ago in the Amazon jungle.

Dom Phillips, a contributor to The Guardian newspaper, and Bruno Pereira disappeared on June 5, in the Javari Valley, a remote region in the Brazilian Amazon near the borders with Peru and Colombia, where they were conducting an investigation on threats against indigenous communities in the area.

According to the information provided by the Fire Brigade, the backpack — which also contained books and some clothes — belongs to one of the missing people, representatives of the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (Univaja) said.

The bag, which will be sent to investigators for analysis, was found tied to a tree in a flooded area on a river bank, near the home of Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, better known as “Pelado,” the only suspect in the disappearances.

He was arrested on Friday after authorities found traces of blood on one of his boats.

After a week of searching the area yielded few results, non-governmental organizations and international bodies such as the UN Human Rights Office and the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have spoken out to urge Jair Bolsonaro’s government to step up its efforts to find the two men.

The Javari Valley, Brazil’s second largest indigenous reserve, has seen conflicts between rival criminal groups vying over drug trafficking routes and engaging in illegal logging, mining and fishing.

Pereira, who has been working in the region for years and knows the area well, had been the target of several threats from criminal gangs operating in the region, raising fears among local indigenous leaders that he has been assassinated.

Phillips, on the other hand, is a veteran journalist who has been based in Brazil for the last 15 years, and has collaborated with various international media, including the Financial Times, New York Times and Washington Post, among others, and is currently working on an investigation for a book on the Javari Valley.

Phillips and Pereira went missing on June 5 when they were traveling from the community of Sao Rafael to the city of Atalaia do Norte, in the state of Amazonas, but they did not arrive as scheduled that Sunday morning.

They were traveling in a new boat, loaded with enough gasoline for the trip, and were last seen near the community of Sao Gabriel, a few kilometers from Sao Rafael. EFE


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