Brazil declares emergency over deaths of Yanomami children from malnutrition

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's ministry of health has declared a medical emergency in the Yanomami territory, the country's largest indigenous reservation bordering Venezuela,

following reports of children dying of malnutrition and other diseases caused by illegal gold mining. A decree published on Friday by the incoming government of President

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the aim of the declaration was to restore health services to the Yanomami people that had been dismantled by his far-right predecessor Jair

Bolsonaro. In four years of Bolsonaro's presidency, 570 Yanomami children died of curable diseases, mainly malnutrition but also malaria, diarrhea and malformations caused

by mercury used by wildcat gold miners, the Amazon journalism platform Sumauma reported, citing data obtained by a FOIA. Lula visited a Yanomami health center in Boa Vista

in Roraima state on Saturday following the publication of photos showing children and elderly men and women so thin their ribs were visible. "More than a humanitarian

crisis, what I saw in Roraima was genocide: a premeditated crime against the Yanomami, committed by a government insensitive to suffering," Lula said on Twitter. The

government announced food packages that will be flown to the reservation where some 26,000 Yanomamis live in a region of rainforest and tropical savanna the size of

Portugal. The reservation has been invaded by illegal gold miners for decades, but the incursions multiplied since Bolsonaro won office in 2018 promising to allow mining on

previously protected lands and offering to legalize wildcat mining.