Dom Phillips, an Amazon specialist and long-time contributor for the UK newspaper The Guardian, has been missing since Sunday (June 5) in the remote Javari Valley, in the far western part of Amazonas state. He was conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts there. He went missing with Bruno Araujo Pereira, a staffer on leave from the Brazilian Indigenous National Foundation (FUNAI). 

Who is Dom Phillips?

Dom Phillips is a 57-year-old British journalist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He writes for energy news wire Platts, British soccer monthly Four Four Two, and People magazine and has written for publications, including The Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian, Independent, and Financial Times.

Phillips also contributes to the From Brazil blog from the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. With funding from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the veteran correspondent is also working on a book about the preservation of the Amazon.

Initially, Phillips used to write about British dance music. But his journalistic focus shifted to Brazil, its indigenous communities and the environment in 2007, as reported by MixMagwhere he worked from 1991 to 1999.

According to MixMag, Phillips “has reported critically on subjects including the policies of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, corruption among the president’s political allies, and allegations against meat processing companies and gold miners for illegal Amazon deforestation that is impacting indigenous communities.”

When and Where Did Dom Phillips Disappear?

Dom Phillips was last seen on Sunday, June 5, in a remote region of the Javari Valley in Amazonas state, near the border with Peru.

As reported by The Timesthe area is known for illegal mining and drug trafficking.

Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira, a Brazilian indigenous expert, were reported missing the next day by two indigenous rights groups – Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indigenous Peoples (OPI) and the Union of Indigenous Organizations of the Javari Valley (Univaja).

The groups released a statement that said Phillips and Pereira set off on 3 June on a two-day boat trip to interview members of an indigenous guard.

After a meeting with local leaders in the community of São Rafael, the two set off towards the municipality of Atalaia do Norte at about 6 am on Sunday, a journey that takes around two hours.

After Phillips and Pereira failed to arrive, a search party was sent out at about 2 pm on the same day. The pair were reportedly travelling in a well-fuelled boat and were using satellite communications equipment.

The place where they went missing is the primary access route to and from the Vale do Javari, Brazil’s second-largest Indigenous territory about a third of the size of the UK.

The writer and expert had reportedly received death threats the week before they were reported missing.

The last to see them were residents of São Gabriel, a community downriver from São Rafael, who spotted their boat going past.

Who is Dom Phillips’ Wife?

Dom Phillips is a married man. He has a Brazilian wife named Alessandra Sampaio. After Phillips went missing, his wife urged the country’s authorities to step up the search to find the love of her life.

Dom Phillips Wife
Dom Phillips’ Wife Alessandra Sampaio.

In a tearful video, Dom Phillips’ wife said she still had “some small hope” of finding her husband and Bruno Araujo Pereira. In a video message, Ms Sampaio said:

“I want to make an appeal to the government to intensify the search. We still have some small hope of finding them. Even if I don’t find the love of my life alive, please find them.”

Phillips and his wife live in the northeastern city of Salvador. There is no information about their kids.

Dom Phillips Search Update: Has He Been Found?

Dom Phillips is still nowhere to be found. It has already been three days since he went missing in the Amazon rainforest, as of Wednesday (June 8).

According to Brazil’s federal prosecutors, the Federal Police, Amazonas state’s civil police, the national guard, and the navy have already been mobilised to search for Phillips and Pereira.

On Tuesday, the navy said it sent a search-and-rescue team of seven and would deploy a helicopter.

On Monday night, Dom Phillips’ sister, Sian Phillips, also urged the Brazilian authorities to do all they can to search for his brother through a video statement. She said:

“We knew it was a dangerous place but Dom really believed it’s possible to safeguard the nature and the livelihood of the Indigenous people. We are really worried about him and urge the authorities in Brazil to do all they can to search the routes he was following. If anyone can help scale up resources for the search that would be great because time is crucial.”

She continued:

“We love our brother and want him and his Brazilian guide found … every minute counts.”

Brazilian police officers have interviewed at least four witnesses believed to be among the last to have seen Mr Phillips.

Guilherme Torres, the head of the interior department of Amazonas state’s civil police, told Reuters news agency:

“We are indeed working with the hypothesis that a crime might have occurred, but there is another, much larger possibility, that they’re lost. Now, our priority is to find them alive, especially in these first hours. In parallel, a criminal probe has been opened to see if there was some crime committed.”

Mr Torres said he could not rule out that their disappearance was linked to the gangs operating in the lawless region.


Write A Comment