Indigenous people call for protection of Amazonia

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Pollution and unsustainable development endanger South America's Amazon Basin and threaten the existence of the indigenous people, an official said Tuesday.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Vazquez Campos, head of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), said the Amazon rainforest across such regional countries as Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru is polluted.

"We are worried because our rivers are now polluted due to oil spills and we cannot go fishing as we did before, putting in danger our own existence in some Amazonian zones," he said.

Campos urged the countries attending the ongoing COP 20 or the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Lima, Peru, to increase awareness of the dangers facing the Amazonia.

Campos said the voice of indigenous people and farmers should be especially heard at the conference.

The Amazon River Basin spans 7 million square km, of which 5.5 million square km is covered by rainforest.

Campos said the very existence of the Amazonia is in danger due to energy, agri-business and infrastructure projects, including the building of hydroelectric plants and waterways, oil extraction, mining as well as projects using palm oil, soy and sugar cane to produce biodiesel.

In addition, environmental pollution in the South American Amazonia should not be underestimated, said Campos.

"The indigenous people are not the main producers of pollution, but we are certainly the most affected despite our environmental protection actions," he said.

The chief also regretted the introduction of transgenic seeds across the region, which has affected the region's original seeds.

"If we want to save the world, we have to reduce environmental pollution, because it affects not only the life of indigenous people but also biodiversity and forests, which are a shelter of wild life," he said.

"This enormous region in South America is the Earth's 'green lung' and indigenous peoples are the guardians of the Amazonia's rich biodiversity," said Campos.

COICA was founded in 1984 in Lima to coordinate nine national Amazonian indigenous organizations.

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