Illegal miners known as garimpeiros are beginning to leave the lands of the Yanomami indigenous peoples after a federal raid to evict them was announced by President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, Minister of Indigenous Peoples Sonia Guajajara told reporters Sunday.
Guajajara also said federal authorities were working on a way to transport the miners, while action had been taken to prevent these groups from shifting to other indigenous lands in the Brazilian northeast, which was the case in 1992 during the first mass operation to disintrude mining in the Yanomami Indigenous Land.
The minister also announced the construction of a field hospital in the Surucucu region, for which the landing strip needs to be enlarged to handle bigger aircraft. What we have now is still the reality that we have to remove patients to the Casai [Indigenous People's Health House] in Boavista. But we are reforming the track so that this plan can be worked out, Guajajara explained.
The federal government also announced that it had already distributed 75 tons of food and medicine to the Yanomami Indigenous Land with the involvement of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). Some supplies were dropped with parachutes due to the lack of proper conditions for aircraft landing.
The FAB has been performing anti-garimpo (illegal mining) activities since Feb. 1, it was also reported, due to which trespassers are even requesting the armed forces' help before the indigenous reserve is fully seized by federal troops.
It is estimated that at least 20,000 miners are in the Yanomami Indigenous Land. Their illegal action has caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the territory. There are just over 30,000 Yanomami in the area that should, by law, be preserved. However, they have suffered from the advance of garimpo, which in 2022 alone grew by 54%.
The region is densely forested and mountainous, which can aggravate the miners' escape route. By boat, they must face a journey of at least seven days down the Urariocera river. Since the beginning of the air blockade, garimpeiros have been left without food and other supplies.
If they leave without needing this security force, this police force, then better for everybody, Guajajara said during her visit to the area during the weekend. Illegal mining is the root of the problem, she insisted.
We are coming here to ask you to share this video on Facebook to ask them to activate human resources [human rights]. They are not rescuing anyone, we are stuck here and we won't have any more food. The indigenous people are going to start getting stressed because we are the ones giving them food, a garimpeiro says in a video gone viral.
In a social media group called Friends of the Uraricoera River - about the main waterway used by miners to reach the camps inside the Yanomami Indigenous Land - one person says that at least 5,000 miners are trying to leave the site, but there are no flights.