Gold miners bring fresh wave of suffering to Brazil’s Yanomami – by Ueslei Marcelino and Anthony Boadle (Reuters – Janaury 18, 2024)

Brazil is losing the upper hand in its battle to save the Yanomami Indigenous people, who are dying from flu, malaria and malnutrition brought into their vast, isolated Amazon rainforest reservation by resurgent illegal miners.

A year after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared a humanitarian crisis among the Yanomami and vowed zero tolerance for illegal mining, environmental enforcers warn that Brazil is jeopardizing last year’s hard-won progress, when about 80% of roughly 20,000 wildcatters were ousted from the Portugal-sized reservation.

As the Brazilian military has rolled back its support for the government crackdown, the gold-seeking miners have come back, they say, making fresh incursions into Yanomami land.

According to Brazil’s health ministry, 308 Yanomami died of disease, malnutrition and violence last year, with 50% of the deaths being children under four. Deaths from malaria, which is introduced by the miners, doubled in 2023 from 2022.

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