Indigenous leaders of nine countries in Amazon called for emergency donations to protect 3 million rainforest inhabitants that are particularly vulnerable to the Coronavirus outbreak, due to lack of access to healthcare, Reuters reported.
They supported that regional leaders have failed to provide food, medicine and protective equipment to the indigenous population, although the virus has already infected 180 of the 600 indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin.
According to the organisers of the Amazon Emergency Fund at the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the emergency donations aim at gathering $3 million in the two upcoming weeks and $5 million over a two-month period.
The fund will be fiscally sponsored by the Rainforest Foundation US, while the grants will be managed by a governing council that will include indigenous representatives. The Rainforest Foundation US will be responsible for wiring funds directly to grantees’ accounts.
The head of the foundation, Suzanne Pelletier said that the survival of the indigenous communities is also vital for “life on earth,” as they are the “guardians of the rainforest.”
“This pandemic is not only a humanitarian emergency, it is also an environmental emergency,” Pelletier said according to Reuters, as deforestation in Amazon continues despite the pandemic.
She added that “Indigenous people across the Amazon are the last line of defense against forest destruction and our best hope of mitigating climate change.”