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Amazon Indians Suffer ill-effects from Pollution

Fri, May. 03, 2013 Posted: 07:20 PM


By Mark Ellis

The Shipibo people once lived in a pristine environment in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, with clean drinking water from fresh water streams, abundant fish in their rivers, and fertile soil for planting. But recently, mysterious ailments have been plaguing their people that may be related to environmental concerns.

“Oil pipelines in their territory have broken several times, so they have oil all around,” says Dr. Dale Kietzman, founder of Latin American Indian Ministries (LAIM). “There is also mercury in the rivers from gold mining.”

LAIM has been training pastors among the Shipibo, as well as responding to requests for practical assistance. Recently LAIM sent a professor to analyze their water and design a treatment system for the Shipibo.

“There is a sickness in their community, with young children dying and the villages suffering,” Dr. Kietzman says.

The pollution problem has intensified in the last decade. “Just in the last 4 years there have been seven oil spills in the indigenous territory of Canaan, from using old, rusted pipelines which destroy the water, land, health and vegetation of the area,” Dr. Kietzman notes. “The community now has to travel up to 3 hours to find non-contaminated sources of fish, and can no longer hunt or grow food on their now contaminated land.”

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Mark Ellis