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Ecuador: COVID-19 threatens Indigenous People’s lives

    Saturday, July 4, 2020 - 12:31

    These Shuar children would be among many at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection. Image via Pinterest


    Indigenous organizations claim that the government’s response to COVID-19 has been inadequate and ineffective so far.

    On 1 July, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) reported that of 45% of 2,673 people tested, there emerged 1,215 confirmed and 622 suspected cases of COVID-19 in Indigenous Amazonian communities. They face a higher risk than most due to the scarcity of drinking water, food sources, medical supplies, health services and COVID-19 tests. An oil spill from 7 April and seasonal floods polluted the environment and food and water sources of many communities, increasing their risk of infection. Amnesty International calls on the president to urgently implement an action plan to protect them and guarantee full respect for their human rights.

    Please send a message to the president.

    • Start with Dear President Lenín Moreno and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
    • Draw to his attention the dire and urgent situation of Indigenous Peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    • Call on him to urgently design and implement an action plan to protect Indigenous Peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon from the COVID-19 pandemic. Such a plan must comply with human rights standards and follow genuine consultation with Indigenous organizations and authorities. The plan must include, among others, actions intended to stop the spread of the virus while guaranteeing the rights to life, to health, to water, to a healthy environment and to an adequate standard of living.

    Write to (there is no postal service to Ecuador during the pandemic)

    President Lenín Moreno
    Presidencia de la República del Ecuador
    García Moreno N10-43 entre Chile y Espejo 
    170401 Quito, Ecuador
    Email:  or  
    Twitter:     @Lenin
    Facebook:     @LeninMorenoEC
    Instagram:     @LeninMorenoG

    Please copy

    His Excellency Juan Diego Stacey Moreno
    Ambassador for Ecuador
    99 Bank Street, Suite 230
    Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6B9
    Fax:         613 235 5776
    Phone:        613 563 8206

    Juan Carlos Zevallos López
    Minister of Public Health
    Av. Quitumbe Ñan y Av. Amaru Ñan
    Plataforma Gubernamental de Desarrollo Social
    170702 Quito, Ecuador 
    Email:  or 
    Twitter:     @DrJuanCZevallos  or  @Salud_Ec
    Facebook:     @DrZevallosJuanCarlos  or  @SaludEcuador

    Additional information

    According to government information, by 2 July 2020, there had been 50,915 COVID-19 confirmed cases (41% of 121,328 people tested) and 4,246 deaths in Ecuador, which has a population of 17 million.

    According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), by 1 July 2020, there were 1,215 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (45% of the 2,673 people tested) among Indigenous persons in the Ecuadorian Amazon, of which 116 had recovered and 25 had died. Additionally, there were 622 suspected cases of persons showing symptoms of COVID-19, of which 12 had died. Approximately 290,000 Indigenous persons belonging to 10 nationalities (ethnicities) live in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

    Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation or in recent contact could even be at risk of extinction since their populations are often small and their immune capacity could be reduced by lack of genetic diversity.

    In addition to the impact of the pandemic, on 7 April, an oil spill in the Transecuadorian Pipeline System (SOTE) and the Crude Oil Pipeline (OCP) polluted the Coca and Napo rivers, affecting the environment, water, food and livelihoods of nearly 120,000 people. Some 27,000 are Indigenous persons, mainly belonging to the Kichwa and Shuar communities.

    On 29 April, a group of Indigenous and human rights organizations filed a constitutional protection proceeding and requested precautionary measures on behalf of the nearly 120,000 people affected by the oil spill. The petition holds responsible the Ministry of Energy and Natural and Non-Renewable Resources, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Public Health, the state oil company Petroecuador, and the private company OCP. The petitioners reported that the judge in charge of the case endangered guarantees to due process through procedural irregularities.

    On 22 June, Indigenous and human rights organizations in Ecuador issued a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the vulnerable situation of Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    If you want Updates on this case, send your request to with “Keep me updated on UA 114/20 Ecuador” in the subject line.