Amazon forest fires rage at record rate amid global concern

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-23 12:50:41|Editor: Yurou
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BRASILIA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Record-breaking forest fires in Brazil's Amazon rainforest are dealing a heavy blow to Brazil and have evolved into a crisis arousing international attention.

"We're very concerned about these fires," UN secretary-general's spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a press briefing on Thursday about the devastating fires that have devoured swathes of forests in the Amazon.

Forests are essential for the health of the entire world, he said, emphasizing that "sustaining the forests is crucial in the fight against climate change."

Earlier this month, Brazil declared a state of emergency over the rising number of fires in the region.

The number of forest fires in Brazil increased by 82 percent from January to August in 2019 compared to the same period last year, the country's National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) said on Monday.

According to Inpe, 71,497 forest fires were registered in the country in the first eight months of 2019, up from 39,194 in the same period in 2018.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday blamed non-governmental organizations (NGO) for increasing wildfires in the Amazon rainforest in the country's north, but his claim was refuted by environmentalists, who argued that the surge of fires was a result of increasing deforestation and burning fuelled by the government's anti-environmental policy.

This was echoed by Inpe researcher Alberto Setzer, who told local news site G1 that all the fires are results of human activities, some accidental while others intentional.

Calling the fires an international emergency on Twitter, French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday expressed his concern over the rampant fires and called for a discussion of the issue at the upcoming Group of 7 (G7) summit.

Amid growing international criticism over the alarming wildfires in the Amazon, a vital bulwark against climate change, President Bolsonaro on Thursday admitted farmers could be illegally setting the rainforest ablaze but told Western powers not to interfere.

The emergency has now transcended Brazil's borders, reaching Peruvian, Paraguayan and Bolivian regions.

The Chilean government on Thursday offered support for Brazil in the battle against the Amazon forest fires that set in more than two weeks ago.

"We have the experience, we have very good technicians, professionals and forest guards, and we have to be very supportive with a country that is going through a bad moment," Chilean Minister of Agriculture Antonio Walker told the press.