(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis noted the universal concern for the “vast fires” that are raging throughout the Amazon region. The Holy Father prayed that, “with the commitment of all,” the fires “might be contained as soon as possible.”
“That forest lung is vital for our planet,” the Pope said.
Army depolyed to fight fires
Brazilian state experts reported nearly 77,000 wildfires across the country so far in 2019, an increase of 85% over the same period in 2018. More than half of those fires occurred in the Amazon region.
On Saturday, Brazilian troops on Saturday were deploying in the Amazon to fight the fires. President Jair Bolsonaro tried to temper global concern, saying that previously deforested areas had burned and that intact rainforest was spared. Some 44,000 troops will be available for “unprecedented” operations to put out the fires, and forces are heading to six Brazilian states that asked for federal help, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo said.
The Brazilian military operations came after widespread criticism of Bolsonaro’s handling of the situation. On Friday, the president authorized the armed forces to put out fires, saying he is committed to protecting the Amazon region.