Brazil makes U-turn on £16m Amazon fire-fighting funds

Brazil appears to have backtracked on its rejection of G7 funds to fight the Amazon forest fires, saying it will accept as long as it has control over how the money is spent.

Presidential spokesman Rego Barros made the comments in an apparent attempt to smooth over a public spat between the Brazilian and French presidents.

The remains of a tree after wildfires in Altamira, in Brazil's Para state
Image: The wildfires have devastated parts of the Amazon in Brazil

Over the weekend, the G7 offered $ 20m (£16m) in aid to battle wildfires which have been causing devastation in Brazil’s Amazon basin.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro said he would only accept an offer of international aid if French leader Emmanuel Macron withdrew “insults”.

Mr Macron has questioned Mr Bolsonaro’s trustworthiness and commitment to protecting biodiversity, while Mr Bolsonaro has said his French counterpart has called him a liar, and accused him of questioning Brazil’s sovereignty

There now appears to have been a change of heart, with Mr Barros saying on Wednesday: “The Brazilian government, through its president, is open to receiving financial support from organisations and countries.

“This money, when it enters the country, will have the total governance of the Brazilian people.”

More from Amazon Fires

Independently, the Reuters news agency was told by a diplomatic source in the capital Brasilia that the Brazilian government had also accepted £10m from the UK to fight the fires. This has also been reported by Brazilian newspaper O Globo, but Mr Bolsonaro’s office has not commented.

The number of fires in 2019 has increased by 80% in the year to date compared with the same period in 2018, according to data from Brazil’s space agency INPE.

Sky News has been reporting from the rainforest, where our correspondent came across wildernesses ravaged by flames and spoke to an indigenous community which says this is the worst season it can remember.

Brazil’s reversal came as a congressional committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment to allow commercial agriculture on indigenous reserves, a practice that is currently prohibited.

Smokes rises from forest fires in Altamira in Brazil's Para state
Image: Smokes rises from forest fires in Altamira in Brazil’s Para state

The remains of a snake after a devastating 3,600 square mile forest fire that has hit Bolivia
Image: The fires have also hit neighbouring Bolivia

The proposal now has to go to a specially formed committee for consideration.

After passing through committee votes, a constitutional amendment must ultimately be approved by supermajorities in both houses of the Brazilian parliament.

The Amazon basin fires are not limited to Brazil, with neighbouring Bolivia also battling its own vast blazes which have charred an area nearly as large as Lebanon.

In Brazilian cities near to the areas where the forest fires are worst, lingering smoke has been causing health problems – particularly among children and the elderly.

A league soccer game on the edge of the Amazon rainforest was forced to stop for a time due to smoke from a nearby forest fire
Football match forced to stop due to forest fire smoke

“The kids are affected the most. They’re coughing a lot,” said Elane Diaz, a nurse in the Rondonia state capital of Porto Velho.

“They have problems breathing. I’m concerned because it affects their health.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

World News – Breaking international news and headlines | Sky News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *