(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has said he will deploy elements of the country’s military to help fight an unprecedented spate of fires raging across the country’s portion of the Amazon rainforest, which have the potential to become a major global environmental disaster.
The decision comes amid growing international criticism of how the Bolsonaro Administration had been handling the crisis, which is also impacting neighboring countries. This has notably prompted Bolivia to lease the world’s only 747 Supertanker, the world’s largest firefighting aircraft, which arrived in that country today to help combat the blazes.
Bolsonaro made the announcement on Aug. 23, 2019, a day after holding an emergency cabinet session, but offered little detail about what military forces might end up deployed to support the firefighting efforts at that time. Later in the day, he said the military would “act strongly” and deployments would begin on Aug. 24, 2019.
Since Jan. 1, 2019, there have been more than 75,000 recorded wildfires across Brazil, a more than 80 percent increase over last year. This is also more than the total number of blazes in 2016, when drought fueled a particularly bad fire season. Many of the fires currently raging in Brazil are in that country’s portion of the Amazon, which accounts for 60 percent of that Amazon Rainforest’s total area.