Wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon Put Yanomami Families at Risk

Wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon Put Yanomami Families at Risk
Fecha de publicación: 
23 February 2024
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On Friday, the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) confirmed that 1,691 fires have occurred so far in February in the Roraima state, which is located in the northern region of the Brazilian Amazon.


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Compared to the same period last year, such figure implies that the number of fires has increased 12 times. In the last 24 hours, 464 fires remain active in Roraima.

The number of fires for February's first three weeks represents a significant escalation compared to December when only 237 fires were recorded. The ongoing fires have even blanketed Roraima's capital city Boa Vista in smoke.

At least 374 fires have reached the vast Indigenous territory strerching along the border with Venezuela. With 223 fires reported so far, the most affected Indigenous territory is that occupied by the Yanomami people, on whose lands the federal government conducted a special operation in 2023 to evict thousands of illegal miners.

The text reads, "Fires in Roraima: a family had to leave their home in a hurry. Three municipalities have already declared an emergency due to forest fires."

For example, at the Catrimani Mission, which is assisted by Consolata missionaries, the fires have prompted a critical humanitarian situation for Yanomami families.

"People are facing looming food shortages as flames consume crops. About 1,170 Yanomami, spread across 29 communities, live in that area," local outlet Missoes reported.

In February, 75 fire outbreaks affected 40 square kilometers in the Roraima National Forest, a natural reserve of 1,690 square kilometers. In this area, firefighters' efforts were complicated by strong winds, dry weather, and drought, all of which has been exacerbated by the El Niño.

On Thursday, the Chico Mendes Institute, the Braziian institution responsible for protecting natural parks, stated that the origin of the fires was intentional burning of fields for agricultural cultivation and animal grazing. Roraima Governor Antonio Denarium banned this week the practice of burning for agricultural purposes.

Since mid-2023, the Brazilian Amazon has been experiencing a severe drought, reducing the flow of some of its main rivers to historic lows, as well as causing the deaths of dozens of freshwater dolphins.

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