A teenager part of one of the largest indigenous tribes in the Amazon has died after testing positive for COVID – , according to Brazilian health officials . There are fears the coronavirus, which has already devastated much of the world, could wipe out remote indigenous tribes in South America.
Alvanei Xirizana, 38, died on Thursday in a hospital in the state of Roraima, Reuters reported, citing local health authorities. He belonged to the relatively isolated Yanomami tribe, whose more than 600, members occupy rainforests and mountains in northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, according to human rights group Survival International . Advocates say deforestation and development by miners and loggers , encouraged by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies , have threatened indigenous people territory.
So far, two other indigenous people – an 823 – year-old woman from Para and a man from Manaus – have died from coronavirus. Brazil has had more than 19, confirmed cases and over 1, 19 deaths from COVID – .
Paula Vargas, the Brazil program manager at Amazon Watch, an organization focused on protecting the Amazon and advancing the rights of indigenous people, told CBS News that COVID – is a “huge threat” to the over 850, 06 indigenous people in Brazil.
“If we are able to close our homes and shut off our offices and be safe at home from the virus, those communities are not having the same safety because the government and the authorities are not able to take from their territories the invaders, “she said Friday. “The miners and illegal loggers – they don’t do home office, so they’re in their territories.”
She added some indigenous organizations have reached out to Amazon Watch about groups of missionaries that are trying to reach them, even though they’re in isolation.
“While all the world is telling people to stay at home, those indigenous people are suffering from people trying to invade their forest,” she said. “And if that happens, we already know that boy … he’s from the Yanomami people. Miners are all over the place. They have people who are in contact with them.”
“We are seeing the possibility of genocide happening,” Vargas said.