Raging fires in northern Amazon state threaten Brazil’s Yanomami people

Roraima, Brazil’s northernmost state, is experiencing a significant increase in wildfires, posing a threat to the Yanomami Indigenous people and raising concerns about the Amazon rainforest’s well-being. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) identified 2,606 fires in Roraima within just two months of this year, surpassing the total for all of 2023. February alone saw a record-breaking 2,002 outbreaks. Roraima accounted for 29.5% of Brazil’s fires in 2024.

Indigenous communities, particularly the Yanomami, are suffering from the blazes, exacerbating existing humanitarian crises due to illegal mining activities on their land. Indigenous leader Tuxaua Cesar da Silva highlighted the adverse effects on families, especially children, citing low air humidity and abnormal heat.

The federal government convened meetings in Boa Vista to coordinate a response. Environment Minister Marina Silva attributed the fires to a combination of El Niño, arson, and climate change.

Although President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has curbed deforestation, the Roraima fires underscore the fragility of the Amazon. Greenpeace Brazil’s Romulo Batista emphasized the need for better preparedness, given the expected fires following last year’s severe drought. Dry and hot conditions, exacerbated by increased wind, make firefighting challenging.

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