G-7 summit

G-7 to help nations hit by Amazon wildfires

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday the leaders of the world's major industrialized nations were close to an agreement on how to help fight the Amazon forest fires and try to repair the devastation.
A picture released by Greenpeace shows smoke billowing from forest fires in the municipality of Candeias do Jamari, close to Porto Velho in Rondonia State, in the Amazon basin in north-western Brazil, on Aug 24, 2019.
A picture released by Greenpeace shows smoke billowing from forest fires in the municipality of Candeias do Jamari, close to Porto Velho in Rondonia State, in the Amazon basin in north-western Brazil, on Aug 24, 2019.PHOTO: AFP
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the press after a plenary session at the Bellevue centre in Biarritz, France, on Aug 25, 2019.
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the press after a plenary session at the Bellevue centre in Biarritz, France, on Aug 25, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

BIARRITZ (France) • World leaders at the Group of Seven 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 yesterday.

"We are all agreed on helping those countries which have been hit by the fires as fast as possible," he said at the summit in the south-western French resort of Biarritz.

Ahead of the gathering, Mr 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.

Although about 60 per cent of the Amazon is in Brazil, the vast forest also takes in parts of eight other places: 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."

Mr Macron's bid to put the Amazon crisis high on the agenda at the G-7 angered Brazil's far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who lashed out over what he saw as outside interference, denouncing the French leader's "colonialist mentality".

 
 
 

Under intense international pressure, President Bolsonaro agreed to send in the military to fight the fires.

The army yesterday deployed two Hercules C-130 aircraft to douse fires, as hundreds of new blazes were ignited ahead of nationwide protests over the destruction. Heavy smoke covered Porto Velho city in the north-western state of Rondonia, where the Defence Ministry said the planes have started dumping thousands of litres of water.

The latest official figures show 79,513 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, the highest number of any year since 2013.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2019, with the headline 'G-7 to help nations hit by Amazon wildfires'. Print Edition | Subscribe