UN preparing emergency aid for Brazil’s Yanomami tribe
United Nations, Jan 26 (EFE).- Several United Nations agencies are preparing a proposal to send urgent aid to Brazil’s Yanomami indigenous people after the government declared a “health emergency” on their lands given the lack of medical attention provided to the tribe, which is suffering from child malnutrition and malaria.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that the organization’s team in Brazil has been closely following this issue and has maintained contacts with the Brazilian government to coordinate the potential assistance.
Dujarric said at his daily press conference that 12 UN agencies are preparing a proposal for a comprehensive response to the situation afflicting the Yanomami with an eye toward immediately providing vital aid to help the affected communities.
That response, he said, includes initiatives in the health and food security areas but among the priorities is also providing a response to environmental threats, including mercury contamination in several rivers in the region as a consequence of illegal mining.
Last week, the Brazilian government declared a health emergency on the Yanomami reservation, Brazil’s largest area of indigenous lands, given the lack of available health care there.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva immediately visited the area and called the situation afflicting the Yanomami people “genocide” and a “premeditated crime,” implicitly blaming the 2019-2022 administration of his predecessor, ultrarightist Jair Bolsonaro.
“More than a humanitarian crisis, what I saw in Roraima was genocide. A premeditated crime against the Yanomami, committed by a government insensitive to the suffering of the Brazilian people,” said the president last Sunday on the social networks.
In that regard, the government ordered the opening of an investigation into potential genocide against the tribe, as announced on Wednesday by Attorney General Flavio Dino.
The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples estimates that “at least 570” Yanomami children died in recent years “due to mercury pollution, malnutrition and hunger.”
According to the ministry, 99 Yanomamis between 1 and 4 years old died in 2022 along as a result of malnutrition, pneumonia or diarrhea linked to “the advance of illegal mining in the region,” a practice that pollutes rivers and destroys the jungle.
The villages of the Yanomami are also suffering from outbreaks of malaria and the violence perpetrated by illegal miners, who are estimated to number more than 20,000 on the Yanomami reservation, which is located between the Amazon and Roraima Rivers.