Brazil's Federal Supreme Court (STF) Justice Luís Roberto Barroso Wednesday gave President Jair Bolsonaro's administration five days to rectify the situation of malnourished Yanomami deprived of medical care, portrayed in a TV show over this past weekend.
The Fantástico show, broadcast on the Globo network, aired a report made in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory, which has more than 96,000 square kilometres - twice the size of Switzerland - and is the largest reserve in Brazil, covering approximately 10 million hectares in the state of Roraima, where around 28,000 indigenous people live on the border with Venezuela.
Images of underweight children affected by malnutrition and diseases such as malaria were shown in TV Globo's report on Sunday.
In his decision, Judge Barroso stressed that the Government had already created a program for indigenous peoples to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, in accordance with which all necessary measures were to be adopted. Hence, Barroso has demanded to know which measures exactly had been taken.
This is not the first time that malnutrition in Yanomami children has become controversial. Last May, the photo of an eight-year-old, 12.5-kilogram girl, resting in a hammock in a village in the state of Roraima, made the front pages.
Human rights organizations have claimed illegal miners pollute the waters of the indigenous people with mercury and drive away hunting and fishing, the main sources of food for these peoples.
Barroso holds the federal government accountable for the situation of the Yanomami people.
Officially demarcated three decades ago, the Yanomami territory is the country's largest indigenous reserve. It suffers from the threats of illegal mining and the lack of access to medicines and adequate health infrastructure.
Barroso's decision was taken as part of an action by the Rede Sustentabilidade party, which called the court to compel the federal government to guarantee measures to protect the health and safety of native peoples.
The group claims the federal government allows natural resources to be depleted on Yanomami lands, in addition to not providing basic health care for indigenous peoples.
Federal Police have destroyed illegal mining undertakings on indigenous lands in Roraima, which contaminates the water and food of traditional peoples, in addition to jeopardizing their safety and well-being.
The environmentalist groups have also denounced in October the death of two children who were sucked up by a mining dredger.
As per Barroso's ruling, the government must inform in five days the nutritional situation, access to drinking water and services and medicines by the indigenous peoples.