‘Guarani children malnourished due to lack of land’

April 4, 2008

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A Brazilian public prosecutor has told a Brazilian parliamentary enquiry that the government’s failure to demarcate and protect the land of the Guarani Indians is leading to widespread malnutrition among Guarani children.

Public prosecutor Deborah Duprat said last week, ‘There is not enough space for these groups… Which creates problems like malnutrition and other illnesses.’ Duprat’s comments come just before World Health Day on 7 April, which marks the founding of the World Health Organisation sixty years ago.

Between January and October last year, sixteen Guarani children under the age of one died in the community of Japorã in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Mato Grosso means ‘thick forest’, but the forests are being cleared for soya plantations, cattle ranching and sugar cane. The Guarani are squeezed together on tiny plots of land, and are unable to grow enough food.

The Guarani also have one of the world’s highest suicide rates: one percent of their population committed suicide between 1985 and 2000, including children as young as nine.

Survival’s recent report on tribal peoples’ health, ‘Progress can kill’, reveals the shocking effects on tribal peoples’ health of separating them from their land and forcing ‘development’ on them.

Deborah Duprat urged the Brazilian government to comply with international law by recognising Indigenous peoples’ land.