Covid-19 threatens indigenous people's lives

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According to government information, by 2 July 2020, there had been 50,915 COVID-19 confirmed cases (41% of 121,328 people tested) and 4,246 deaths in Ecuador, which has a population of 17 million. 

According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), by 1 July 2020, there were 1,215 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (45% of the 2,673 people tested) among Indigenous persons in the Ecuadorian Amazon, of which 116 had recovered and 25 had died. Additionally, there were 622 “suspected cases” of persons showing symptoms of COVID-19, of which 12 had died. Approximately 290,000 Indigenous persons belonging to 10 nationalities (ethnicities) live in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

People’s in voluntary isolation or in recent contact could even be at risk of extinction since their populations are often small and their immune capacity could be reduced by lack of genetic diversity.

In addition to the pandemic, on 7 April, an oil spill in the Transecuadorian Pipeline System (SOTE) and the Crude Oil Pipeline (OCP) polluted the Coca and Napo rivers, affecting the environment, water, food and livelihoods of nearly 120,000 people of which 27,000 are Indigenous persons, mainly belonging to the Kichwa and Shuar nationalities (ethnicities).

On 29 April, a group of Indigenous and human rights organizations filed a constitutional protection proceeding and requested precautionary measures on behalf of the nearly 120,000 people affected by the oil spill. The petition holds responsible the Ministry of Energy and Natural and Non-Renewable Resources, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Public Health, the state oil company Petroecuador, and the private company OCP. The petitioners reported that the judge in charge of the case endangered guarantees to due process through procedural irregularities.

On 22 June, Indigenous and human rights organizations in Ecuador issued a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the vulnerable situation of Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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