Peruvian authorities have started evacuating Monte Salvado village situated in a remote southeastern region, after around 200 men from an ‘uncontacted’ savage tribe attacked the settlement with bows and arrows and stole food and equipment.
The evacuation began on Tuesday after around 200 men of the Mashco Piro tribe attacked Monte Salvado close to the border with Brazil twice last week. The residents, a total of 55, had to flee to save their children.
When they were able to return hours later, they saw the raiders had taken all their food, cooking utensils, machetes, clothes and even mosquito nets. In previous attacks, the tribe also reportedly killed several domestic animals.
“There were no injuries although the men fired off arrows. The villagers took refuge in a guard post. They are safe but have no food and are terrified,” said Patricia Balbuena, Peru’s vice-minister of intercultural affairs.
Mashco Piro is an indigenous group of hunter-gatherers who live in isolation in the Amazon tropical forest, a so-called “uncontacted tribe”. Earlier, a local indigenous organization asked the government to protect Mashco Piro, because it is threatened by loggers, drug traffickers and oil workers. The government recently announced the creation of a new oil exploration block in the region.
As the tribesmen attacked, the Amazon villagers contacted the police and local Federation of Native Peoples of the region (Fenamad).
“Our worry is the large number of children,” Lorena Prieto, director of Peru’s office of Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact, said as quoted by the Guardian. “We believe the Mashco Piro are still in the area.”
“We’ve never heard reports of such a large movement of uncontacted people,” he added.
The authorities said the evacuation of the village was necessary to provide security for the residents.
“We have in the meantime provided emergency assistance and compensation for the villagers, although at this time of year and given the remote location it is difficult to get there,” Patricia Balbuena said.
The officials sent river boats because they couldn’t use a helicopter to transfer the villagers to Puerto Maldonado, the capital of the region. Thirty-nine people including 16 children are still in Monte Salvado.
The experts suppose the number of Mashco Piro has grown and the tribe’s necessities have also grown, but the area they live in is reducing due to expansion of the civilization.
“Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable societies on the planet,” said Stephen Corry, director of Survival, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. “If the survival of the Mashco-Piro is to be guaranteed, Peru has to take action quickly, otherwise they risk being wiped out by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance. The Mashco-Piro, like all uncontacted tribes, face catastrophe unless their land is protected.”
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