Catholic Church urges protection of indigenous groups during Covid-19 pandemic

catholic bishops indigenous
Indigenous family in Manaus. Photo: Alex Pazuello/Semcom

On May 4, 65 Catholic bishops from the Amazon region came together to sign an open letter urging governments to enhance protection mechanisms for indigenous people because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The document pointed out that the region has the lowest rate of hospitals per person in Brazil, arguing that “the coronavirus, which devastates us now, alongside the environmental crisis, signal an immense humanitarian tragedy to be caused by a structural collapse.”

The signatories demand an increase in testing, the prohibition of access to remote communities for non-residents and non-health care professionals, and more participation of civil society organizations on the design of public policies for indigenous peoples.

With over 80,000 indigenous people at-risk in the country, The Brazilian Report editor Euan Marshall explained how the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to the extinction of certain communities.

This is not the first time the Catholic Church has spoken up about the Covid-19 crisis in Brazil. On April 28, Pope Francis himself called the Archbishop of Manaus to “solidarity, closeness, and concern to inhabitants of the Amazonian city of Manaus and for the indigenous, traditional and poor people of the region,” according to Vatican-owned Vatican News.