As the Covid-19 pandemic increasingly exposes fault lines between the rich and poor, the eight bishops of Peru’s Amazonian region have urged the government to pay particular attention to the needs of indigenous people.
‘Social inequalities leave the weakest unprotected, making them more vulnerable to Covid-19,’ the bishops wrote in a statement. ‘These deficiencies are exacerbated when they are suffered by the indigenous people of our Amazonia, the population that is most defenceless in the face of this pandemic.’
The message came as some 450 Shipibo people from Peru’s central Amazonian Ucayali region began walking northward from towns on Peru’s southern coast, where they had been doing seasonal farm labour. Their goal is to reach their home communities hundreds of miles away on the other side of the Andes Mountains.
Peru has been on lockdown since 16th March, with residents throughout the country allowed out only to buy food or medicine or for medical emergencies.
But many Peruvians work in very low-paying day labour, living on what they earn from day to day.
The government provided vouchers of about $200 to more than 1 million people during the first month of the quarantine, but that still left millions without assistance.
‘We recognise the great effort that the government is making to grant assistance to the neediest population,’ the bishops wrote. ‘Nevertheless, we see that many poor people have not benefited because they are not included’ on official government lists.
Picture: Kukama boys watch boats on the Amazon’s Maranon River near Dos de Mayo in Peru’s Loreto region. As the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic increasingly exposes fault lines between the rich and poor, the eight bishops of Peru’s Amazonian region have urged the government to pay particular attention to the needs of indigenous people. (CNS photo/Barbara Fraser).