Press release | 21.04.2020

State of emergency in Amazonia: COVID-19 threatens indigenous lives

Climate Alliance calls for support of indigenous peoples

Joint press release of INFOE, Institute for Ecology and Action Ethnology, and Climate Alliance

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 21 April 2020. The COVID-19 virus is posing an enormous threat to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin. After the devastating fires of 2019, Climate Alliance’s partner COICA, representing Amazonian indigenous organisations, has once again declared a state of emergency.

"The situation is really difficult. The military is failing to check boats and trans-porters. The sluggish delivery of food and medical supplies to the communities is also happening without any protection,“ comments Lizardo Cauper, president of AIDESEP, Peru’s indigenous peoples association.

In the declaration, COICA and the indigenous organisations of all nine Amazon Basin countries point to the particular vulnerability of indigenous peoples, which often lack access to health care. The few health centres that exist are often only staffed by a single nurse if at all and neither intensive care beds nor ventilators are available. The immune system of the indigenous population is also not equipped for such diseases.

In its statement, COICA also draws attention to the companies that are disregarding government calls to halt activities. Many are now entering areas unchecked and carrying on with illegal deforestation, mining and oil production. Those involved pose an additional threat as potential transmitters of the Corona virus.

Climate Alliance has stood alongside the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin since its founding 30 years ago. The city network is also advocating for its indigenous partners in this crisis and has launched a call for donations with the Institute for Ecology and Action Ethnology (INFOE).

Further information


The Institute for Ecology and Action Ethnology has been supporting indigenous organisations in the defense of their environment, rights and cultures since 1987. With its activities, INFOE promotes the demands and needs of its indigenous partners. The current focus areas are the protection of climate, forests, indigneous territories and indigenous rights as well as the SDGs, the UN Principles on Business and Human Rights and hydropower mega-projects.

For 30 years, Climate Alliance member municipalities have been acting in partnership with indigenous rainforest peoples for the benefit of the global climate. With over 1,800 members spread across 27 European countries, Climate Alliance is the world’s largest city network dedicated to climate action and the only one to set tangible targets: each member city, town and district has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent every five years. Recognising the impact our lifestyles can have on the world's most vulnerable people and places, Climate Alliance pairs local action with global responsibility.

Photo: Tereza Soria Gonzales