By Peter Frontini
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil will bolster security and aid efforts for the Yanomami territory, officials said on Tuesday, covering ancestral lands that for years have suffered a range of illegal activities largely fueled by wildcat gold mining.
The government will spend 1.2 billion reais ($245 million) this year in security and assistance efforts for the Yanomami territory, Brazil's largest Indigenous reservation, located along the border with Venezuela.
The plan includes establishing a local security headquarters that aims to consolidate federal security efforts to fight wildcat gold mining, a root problem in the region.
The Yanomami territory, an area about the size as Portugal, has been invaded by illegal gold miners for decades, but the destructive incursions multiplied in recent years when then-President Jair Bolsonaro dismantled environment protection efforts.
The illegal mining and deforestation have also exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in the territory, marked by malnutrition and other diseases like malaria, as well as sexual abuse. The rivers that dot the Yanomami lands have also faced mercury pollution that is especially harmful to area wildlife.
Around 31,000 Indigenous people live in the territory, most of whom are Yanomami, but members of the Ye'kwana community are also present.
A year ago, leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched an emergency operation to expel thousands of wildcat gold miners, known locally as garimpeiros, and assist Indigenous communities.
Rui Costa, Lula's Chief of Staff, described the plan as a next phase that is "implementing permanent and structural measures in that region," in comments following a government meeting that discussed the matter.
Other measures include food distribution and a new health center that will focus on Indigenous medical needs.
($1 = 4.8996 reais)
(Reporting by Peter Frontini; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Sandra Maler)