The indigenous peoples who inhabit the vast swathes of the Colombian Amazon launched a donation campaign on Wednesday to survive the “extermination” of COVID-19 in their communities, and one of the most affected regions in the country, with more than 871 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

The virtual launching of the crowdfunding campaign was hosted by ONIC (National Organization of Indigenous Peoples) and among those attending was the president of the National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC), Julio López, who remarked that despite the risk of “extermination,” the country’s many indigenous groups will not “disappear without fighting or resisting.”

Donations “For the health of Amazonian indigenous peoples” will be used to purchase bio-protection items for 64 indigenous communities so that residents can “remain in isolation, without having to go to urban centers,” said López. The indigenous leader also denounced that aid destined to many communities, which the Colombian Government had promised in recent days, has not reached the most vulnerable given delays by departmental authorities.

The capital of Amazonas, Leticia, has two-second level hospitals for a population of 80,000 both of which are understaffed to provide intensive care to COVID-19 patients. Juan Álvaro Echeverri, Professor at the National University in Leticia, claimed at the launching that he has seen entire families who are sick and do not “dare to go to a health center or hospital.” The health emergency in the region also endangers cultural diversity in the Amazonas given “40 different languages ​​from 17 different linguistic lines […] and ancestral knowledge of natural medicines,” warned Echeverri.

On Thursday, 128 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Leticia were the highest in the country, followed by Bogotá with 122, Barranquilla 111, Cartagena 107, Valle 63, and the department Atlántico with 33, among other cities and locations.

The National Institute of Health (INS) processed 6,061 tests to confirm 658 new cases in the country putting the national total at 12,930.

For a second continuous day, Bogotá was not at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and counts with a total of 4,685 infected – 36% of the national total.

The death toll stands at 509 after 16 additional fatalities from COVID-19 were reported in Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Leticia, Buenaventura, Puerto López and Santa Rosa (Bolívar).

Donations to help Amazonian communities will be received on the Vaki platform:

Additional reporting by EFE.