September 19, 2019
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Brazil mobilizes military to fight Amazon fires as global criticism mounts

Brasilia, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- Brazil on Saturday began deploying thousands of army personnel to battle widespread fires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest.

The announcement to carry out the military operation to fight the devastating fires was made by President Jair Bolsonaro in a televised speech.

According to the plan, around 44,000 soldiers are to be deployed in the vast Amazon region to fight the forest fires in the area which have brought the Bolsonaro government under pressure after mounting international criticism over the government allegedly not acting on the issue in time.

The military teams would work until Sep. 24 in the states of Rondonia, Roraima, Tocantins, Para, Acre and Mato Grosso to try and put out the fires.

The other three Amazonian states in Brazil have not yet sought federal troops to fight the fires.

Just in Rondonia, which shares a border with Bolivia - also affected by the spreading fires - around 400 soldiers are expected to act both against the fires and investigate the environmental crimes committed in the region.

Neighboring Colombia offered Brazil its support in controlling the widespread fires.

The offer was made by Colombia President Ivan Duque during his telephonic talks with Bolsonaro.

“Today, I had the opportunity to talk to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on telephone, to again convey Colombia's interest in collaborating in any way possible for tackling this desperate situation in our Amazon," Duque said on Saturday evening after the conclusion of an official event in the southwestern city of Cali.

He said Bolsonaro told him that the countries which share the Amazon forests should pursue a collective effort and issue a joint declaration for protecting its biodiversity.

Duque told the Brazilian president that Bogota proposed that "the agenda of protecting the Amazon should be a global one, and an appeal should be made to developed countries for offering resources and helping in fighting deforestation and international crime associated with trafficking of (wildlife) species".

In Colombia, the Amazon accounts for 40 percent of the country's territory and is the least populated area of the country.

Spread over the departments of Amazonas, Caqueta, Guainia, Guaviare, Meta Putumayo, Vaupes and Vichada, the importance and natural wealth of the Colombian Amazon is reflected by the fact that it houses 10 national parks.

The Colombian environment ministry recorded the deforestation of 197,159 hectares (around 490,000 acres) of natural forests in 2018, a decrease of 22,814 hectares compared to 2017, when 219,973 hectares of forest had been destroyed.

In the Colombian Amazon, deforestation dropped from 144,147 hectares in 2017 to 138,176 hectares last year.

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