World leaders at the G7 summit have agreed to help the countries affected by the huge wildfires ravaging the Amazon rainforest as soon as possible, French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday. "We are all agreed on helping those countries which have been hit by the fires as fast as possible," he told journalists at the summit in the southwestern French resort of Biarritz. Ahead of the gathering, Macron called on world leaders to hold urgent talks on the wildfires ripping through the world's largest rainforest, pledging "concrete measures" to tackle it.
Amazon Fires: Brazil's Bolsonaro allows army to help fire-fight
Although about 60 percent of the Amazon is in Brazil, the vast forest also takes in parts of eight other countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. "This morning, Colombia called on the international community (to help), so we must help out," he said. "Our teams are making contact with all the Amazon countries so we can finalise some very concrete commitments involving technical resources and funding." Macron's bid to put the Amazon crisis high on the agenda at the G7 angered Brazil's far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who lashed out over what he sees as outside interference, denouncing the French leader's "colonialist mentality".
President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday authorized the deployment of Brazil's armed forces to help combat fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, as a growing global outcry over the blazes sparks protests and threatens a huge trade deal. Plumes of thick smoke rose into the sky above dense forest in the northwestern state of Rondonia, where bright orange flames from various fires were visible for kilometers, a photographer from the media reported. "It's not normal and it's like this because of the smoke from the fires," said a hotel employee in the state capital Porto Velho, which was covered by a layer of smoke as fires burned near the city.
The fires in the world's largest rainforest have sparked street protests around the planet and ignited a war of words between Bolsonaro and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who has described the wildfires as an "international crisis" and vowed to block a trade agreement between the European Union and South American countries. The latest official figures show 76,720 forest fires were recorded in Brazil so far this year the highest number for any year since 2013 which experts blame on accelerating deforestation as land is cleared during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing.