First fighting, then COVID-19 leave Colombian forest tribe homeless

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BOGOTA, Sept 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For the past two months, Felicia Bitokayo from Colombia’s indigenous Embera tribe has been sheltering from the rain and the cold Bogota nights with only plastic sheeting to protect her family.

She and about 300 other Emberas were forced to flee their rainforest reserves in Colombia’s western Choco province at the beginning of the year to escape fighting by armed criminal groups.

The tribe traveled hundreds of miles to the capital, where some scrapped a living together selling handmade jewelry on the street, while others begged. Having already fled one crisis, they found themselves facing another: the coronavirus pandemic.

“We couldn’t pay our rent. COVID stopped us from going out and selling our arts and crafts,” said Bitokayo, crouched over a coal stove outside a park in downtown Bogota, where the Emberas have set up a makeshift camp.

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation

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