Indigenous groups in the Amazon could be wiped out by the coronavirus, one tribal leader warned on Thursday, ahead of a live-streamed fund-raising event to feature Hollywood stars Jane Fonda, Morgan Freeman and Barbra Streisand.
About 500 indigenous people mainly living in the Amazon regions of Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador have died in the pandemic and many more are at risk because they lack access to basic health care, said indigenous leader Jose Gregorio Diaz.
“It’s very worrying. We are in danger of extinction,” Diaz, who joined the event later on Thursday night.
“There are indigenous groups living in border areas who have between 40 to 80 people. They could disappear forever,” said Diaz, who heads the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin (COICA).
Hosted by Game of Thrones actress Oona Chaplin, the two-hour event, named Artists United for Amazonia: Protecting the Protectors, also featured musicians including Carlos Santana and Peter Gabriel and environmentalists including Jane Goodall.
The event was aimed at raising money for the Amazon Emergency Fund, launched in April by indigenous organisations and campaigners to help tribes respond to the pandemic.
Amazon Watch, one of the indigenous rights groups involved, said it expected several hundred thousand people to watch online.
“We’ll be joining artists who are known worldwide. They are heard. They have their followers. They can help us get the resources to help our communities,” said Diaz, calling it an “economic and humanitarian SOS” for the Amazon.
“There are no doctors, no equipment and no (Covid-19) tests here,” he said.
So far the Amazon Emergency Fund has raised $207,000, but organisers hope to boost that to $5 million over the next 60 days to pay for food and medical supplies and emergency evacuations for Amazon tribes hard hit by the coronavirus.