Wednesday, 19 February, 2020

Amazon fires bring attention to Africa's forests in flame

Fire burns a tract of Amazon jungle as it is cleared by loggers and farmers near Altamira A fire burns a tract of Amazon jungle as it is cleared by loggers and farmers near Altamira Brazil
Sandy Nunez | 30 August, 2019, 12:16

French President Emmanuel Macron, the summit's host, said Monday the group agreed to a $20 million aid package that will be made immediately available to Brazil and other countries in the region. "I think that Brazilian women are probably ashamed to read that their president has done that". "First for him and for the Brazilians".

Asked by AFP news agency whether the response came from Mr Bolsonaro himself, a spokesman for Brazil's presidential palace refused to comment.

The two leaders have become embroiled in a deeply personal and public war of words in recent days, with Bolsonaro mocking Macron's wife on Facebook and accusing the French leader of disrespecting Brazil's sovereignty.

Bolsonaro lashed out at the French leader over his criticism and suggested NGOs could be setting the fires to embarrass him - without giving any evidence to back the claim.

Brazil's federal police said Sunday it would investigate reports that some farmers had organized a "day of fire" to show support for Bolsonaro's efforts to ease environmental rules.

Mr Macron has led a campaign urging action on the fires, beginning with a tweet he posted in the lead-up to the G7.

However, Brazil's president rejected the cash and said Macron's plan of an "alliance" to "save" the Amazon treated Brazil "as if we were a colony or no man's land".

Macron is famously protective of his wife and has been known to go after French media in the past if he feels they have intruded on her privacy or overstepped in their coverage of her.

A burning tract of the Amazon jungle is seen in Canarana, Mato Grosso state, Brazil, Monday.

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Bolsonaro reacted by blasting Macron for having a "colonialist mentality". Not only are the fires releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide and smoke, he said, but they're also a sign that the Amazon is under direct threat of destruction.

France accused Bolsonaro of lying to Macron over his commitment to combating the climate emergency, saying Paris would no longer support the Mercosur deal with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Bestselling Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho took to the internet to apologise - in French - for Bolsonaro's behavior.

At first, Bolsonaro said the fires were not a problem.

Oscar victor and longtime environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has donated $5 million dollars to help preserve the Amazon rainforest and combat wildfires.

Brazilian military planes began dumping water on fires in the Amazon state of Rondonia over the weekend, and a few hundred of the promised troops deployed into the fire zone.

Bolsonaro's government had found itself under increasing global pressure over its environmental policies even before the major fires broke out earlier this month.

More than 40,000 of these fires are within the Amazon rainforest, the highest number since data collection began in 2013.