Brazil: 'imminent' threat to isolated peoples

Officials in Brazil warned June 26 that isolated indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest face imminent "tragedy" and "death" following a rash of sightings in the remote area near the border with Peru. Experts with Brail's indigenous affairs agency FUNAI say the "uncontacted" indigenous bands are fleeing towards the border in response to incursions by illegal loggers into their lands. Asháninka communities in Acre state report a growing number of previously isolated bands appearing in their territories. FUNAI official José Carlos Meirelles said: "Something very serious must have happened. It isn't usual for such a large group of uncontacted indigenous people to approach in this manner. It is a disturbing and completely new situation, and right now we do not know what has provoked it."

The fleeing group may be that which was famously photographed by a FUNAI overflight in 2008. The area has been increasingly encroached upon by loggers, narco-gangs and other criminal enterpises, with growing reports of massacres in the remote and lawless territories.

Stephen Corry of UK-based Survival International called upon urgent action by the governments of both Brazil and Peru. "For uncontacted Indians, internaitonal borders don't exist," he said. "Both governments must act to ensure the survival of their uncontacted citizens." (EcoNoticias, June 26)