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Amazon fires: Brazil sends army to help tackle blazes

BBC


Brazil’s president has ordered the armed forces to fight record forest fires in the Amazon, amid international outrage over rising deforestation.

President Jair Bolsonaro deployed soldiers in nature reserves, indigenous lands, and border areas beset by fires.

The move is an apparent reversal from Mr Bolsonaro, who has been accused of emboldening miners and loggers.

Other countries had threatened to target Brazil’s economy if it did not act to stop the fires.

France and Ireland had said they would not ratify a large trade deal with South American nations, and Finland’s finance minister had called on the EU to consider banning Brazilian beef imports.

In a televised address to the nation on Friday, Bolsonaro said forest fires “exist in the whole world” and “cannot serve as a pretext for possible international sanctions”.

Many of the fires are thought to have been started deliberately, with suspicion falling on farmers who may benefit by having more available land. Bolsonaro has scorned environmental activists and declared staunch support for the clearing of areas of the Amazon for agriculture and mining.

Experts and campaigners say his administration has given a green light to rainforest destruction. Environmental groups held protests in cities across Brazil on Friday to demand action to combat the fires, and protesters gathered outside the Brazilian embassies around the world.

The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It is known as the “lungs of the world” and is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.