Threats to uncontacted tribes deemed 'vital' issue by Indigenous federation

March 10, 2008

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The threats to uncontacted tribes living in the most remote parts of the Amazon basin has been named an ‘issue of vital importance’ by the Amazon’s most prominent Indigenous federation.

‘At risk are the individual and collective lives of Indigenous peoples living in isolation and those recently contacted for the first time,’ a statement from COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon basin) reads. ‘We will defend the rights of our Indigenous brothers – no one else either in government or civil society is protecting them properly.’

The threats cited by COICA include oil and gas exploration, mining and logging. South American countries, COICA states, are putting the Amazon basin up ‘for sale’ without the consent of its inhabitants, and ignoring international law on Indigenous peoples’ rights.

Uncontacted tribes are among the most vulnerable of all Indigenous peoples because they lack immunity to outsiders’ diseases. First contact is almost always catastrophic, often leading to the death of a large proportion of a newly-contacted tribe.