Search launched to find an English journalist and a Brazilian anthropologist who disappeared in the Amazon
Dom Phillips speaks with natives at the Aldeia Maloca Papiu, in the state of Roraima, Brazil, on November 15, 2019.

It took the emergency intervention, Monday evening June 6 in Brazil, of the Union’s Public Defense, linked to the Ministry of Justice, for the federal police and the navy to use helicopters and boats to search for the independent journalist. British Dom Phillips and the Brazilian anthropologist Bruno Araujo Pereira, gone on an expedition and missing since Sunday morning in the Javari Valley, a region located in the northwest of the Brazilian Amazon, on the border with Peru. It was the Union of Indigenous Organizations of the Javari Valley (Univaja) which gave the alert on Sunday to their disappearance and which also called on the Public Defense of the union to launch the search.

In its motion, the Public Defense immediately expressed concern about “Widely insufficient research resources. It is fundamental, she specifies, to point out that the region of Vale do Javari is gigantic (8.5 million hectares), and that it is therefore necessary that the teams be immediately reinforced not only in number of people, but also in boats and helicopters” . The navy and the army should have been the first on the scene, given their presence in the region. In a terse statement on Monday evening, the military command of the Amazon assured that it was able “to carry out a research mission”, but not having launched it yet, in the absence of an order to “upper tier” provoking incomprehension and the anger of the relatives of the disappeared.

All day Monday, Brazilian journalists and several international colleagues of Dom Phillips – who writes for the British newspaper The Guardian and the Americans The New York Times and The Washington Post – have launched a campaign on social networks to ask the authorities to carry out the search more seriously. “It is unacceptable that an entire day was lost due to the lack of commitment from the Brazilian authorities. Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips are somewhere in the Javari Valley, but the ones who are really involved in the research so far are the natives of the area,” tweeted journalist and writer Eliane Brum, who lives in the Amazon and knows the region well.

“Really not a recommendable adventure”

In the evening, the families of the disappeared also appealed to the Brazilian authorities, in particular the sister of Dom Phillips, from England. His wife, Alessandra Sampaio, has “implied the authorities to urgently seek [son] husband and his shipping partner. As I make this call, she pleads, they have been missing for more than thirty hours in the Javari Valley, one of the most conflicted regions of the Amazon. In the forest, every second counts, every second can be a matter of life or death”.

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