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Protect the people of the Amazon during COVID-19, urge Norwegian church leaders

Protect the people of the Amazon during COVID-19, urge Norwegian church leaders

Photo: Paulino Menezes/WCC, 2018

15 May 2020

Norwegian churches added their voice to the chorus of concern for the people of the Amazon as the coronavirus increasingly spreads. In a letter to the Brazilian embassy, the Church of Norway and the Roman Catholic Church in Norway jointly expressed deep solidarity with the people of Brazil.

“As Norwegian churches we are in close contact with our sisters and brothers in faith in Brazil and are kept updated of their efforts to serve their communities in these times of crisis,” the letter reads. “We find the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in the Amazon deeply worrying, causing the collapse of health systems,” reads the letter sent on 12 May, signed by the Church of Norway’s Presiding Bishop Olav Fykse Tveit and the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oslo Can. Reg. Bernt I. Eidsvig.

On 4 May, the Roman Catholic National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Episcopal Commission for the Amazon) released a statement saying that testing is insufficient to know the real expansion of the virus. “Many people with evident symptoms of the disease die at home without medical assistance and access to a hospital,” reads the statement. “Faced with this scenario of a pandemic, it is up to the public authorities to implement responsible care strategies for the most vulnerable population sectors.”

Indigenous peoples and traditional communities are at great risk, continues the statement, and so are many others. "In addition to forest peoples, urban populations, especially in the peripheries, are exposed and have their living conditions further degraded by lack of basic sanitation, decent housing, food and employment,” the text reads. “They are migrants, refugees, urban indigenous peoples, industrial workers, domestic workers, people who live from informal work who cry out for health protection.”

Gold mining, extractive activities and deforestation have increased vulnerability even more, the message notes. “With the Amazon increasingly devastated, successive pandemics will come, worse than the one we are currently experiencing,” the message reads.

WCC member churches in Norway

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