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Brazil ignored the cry of its people, now Covid-19 has decimated marginalised communities

8 April 2021

8 April 2021

Following the news that more than 66,000 deaths were recorded last month, Brazil has now reported over 4,000 Covid-related deaths in 24 hours for the first time. These statistics, although shocking are not surprising, say health experts and charities who have been trying to raise the alarm for months. 

It was announced that in March, 66,570 people died of COVID-19 in Brazil. Daily fatalities in the country currently account for about a quarter of the global total. 

With the arrival of the new, highly contagious P1 variant these figures may only be the beginning, health professionals have warned.  

“For months, experts have been saying that the situation in Brazil is a tragedy in the making,” explained Cecilia Iorio, Brazil country representative for the UK aid agency CAFOD. 

The impact of the pandemic, currently surging in the south of Brazil, including in the country’s capital, Sao Paulo, could have been mitigated, Iorio says: 

“Back in January and February, when Manaus was the epicentre of the pandemic, the signs were clear - and they all pointed towards disaster. 

“Yet, still, the federal government ignored these warnings and the cry of their people.” 

Indigenous and rural communities have been hit exceptionally hard over the last six months. 

COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed in 23 of the 37 regions of the Yanomami Territory. Located between the states of Roraima and Amazonas, the area is home to around 26,700 indigenous people, including isolated groups, who are even more vulnerable to disease. 

According to a recent report, “Tracing the deadly path of COVID-19”, it is estimated 10,000 people, or more than a third of the total population, may have already been exposed to the virus. 

In the Demini region, one of the most tested in the territory, over 90 per cent of the population had been infected with COVID-19, according to tests performed by the Yanomami Health District. 

“When it was clear that help was not coming, it fell to charities, church and community leaders to try and respond with limited resources,” continued Iorio. 

“The latest statistics show how the Federal government failed to prepare for a second COVID-19 wave. There was a lack of strategy, no emergency support for families to stay at home and patchy lockdowns and curfews.  

“Those living in marginalised, remote, and indigenous communities have been side-lined in the battle against this indiscriminate virus.” 

Notes to Editors

For further information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Elouise Hobbs,, Mobile: +44 (0)7954 077426, Or, CAFOD’s 24-hour media hotline on +44 (0)7919 301 429 further information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Elouise Hobbs,, Mobile: +44 (0)7954 077426, Or, CAFOD’s 24-hour media hotline on +44 (0)7919 301 429 

  • Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Brazil at:

  • In São Paulo and other cities, CAFOD has supported our local partners to distribute essential food, facemasks and hygiene kits for vulnerable families living in favelas and shanty-towns.

  • Working to support the indigenous communities in the Amazon, we have provided food supplies, supported self-isolation of vulnerable groups, prevention information in local languages and personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • CAFOD’s partner, the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA) was also awarded the European Union Brazilian delegation’s award for Human Rights 2020, for their exceptional emergency efforts to support indigenous communities to face the COVID-19 pandemic, including equipping 27 primary care units and distributing 118 tonnes of food.

  • CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. We reach out to people living in poverty with practical help, whatever their religion or culture. Help us build a world where no one is beyond reach of the love and care they need.