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Several Brazilian states request military aid to fight forest fires in the Amazon

August 25, 2019

BRAZIL, Aug. 25 (Reuters / EP) –

At least six states in the Amazon region of Brazil have requested this Saturday military aid to combat the fires that are consuming the rainforest, home to the world's largest tropical forest and which is considered vital to counteract global warming.

Thus, the states of Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantíns, Mato Grosso and Acre – six of the nine in the region – have requested military help, according to a spokeswoman for the presidential office, one day after the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, authorized the intervention of the Army.

The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world and its protection is considered key in the fight against climate change, due to the huge amounts of carbon dioxide it absorbs.

Brazil has 44,000 soldiers deployed in the northern Amazon region to fight forest fires and could send more from other parts of the country, as reported by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Armed Forces, Raul Botelho.

For example, in Porto Velho, in the state of Rondônia, two airplanes with capacity to transport 12,000 liters of water mixed with fire retardant would be available, as well as an infantry brigade, patrol forces in rivers and the Amazonian supervision unit of the local office of the Ministry of Defense, as detailed.

On Saturday, less than 50 people have been sent from Brasilia to Porto Velho to support the operations. The figure includes 30 firefighters and 18 communications specialists, Botelho said.

Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo has explained that the forces would concentrate in certain areas, depending on the mission that corresponds to them.

The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has authorized this Saturday the sending of the Armed Forces to the state of Tocantins to contain the fires of the Amazon and joins the other two states that already authorized the sending of troops on Friday, Rondonia and Roraima

The presidential decree published in the Official Gazette of the Union includes a Law and Order Guarantee (GLO) operation whereby the military may participate in “preventive and repressive actions against environmental crimes”.

This authorization is conditional on the formal request of each of the state governments Acre and Pará. They are also part of the Amazon region Amapá, Amazonas and part of the states of Mato Grosso and Maranhão.

According to data from the Space Research Institute of Brazil (INPE) so far this year the fires have increased 83 percent over the same period of 2018. In 2019 this state agency has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since it reached the previous record in 2013. Between August 15 and 20, satellites accounted for 9,500.