News World Brazil rejects ‘colonialist’ offer to help fight Amazon fires

Brazil rejects ‘colonialist’ offer to help fight Amazon fires

brazil rejects g7 fires
Bolivian firefighters put out blazes in the Amazon. Their president has welcomed the G7 offer. Photo: Getty
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The Brazilian government has rejected an offer of resources and money from G7 countries to help tackle wildfires burning across the Amazon rainforest.

“Thanks, but perhaps these resources are more relevant to reforesting Europe,” the Brazilian President’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, said on Tuesday (AEST).

Leaders of G7 nations, who met in France at the weekend, had said they would release more than 20 million euros ($A30 million) of emergency aid to help countries battle the fires.

A record number of blazes are ravaging the world’s largest rainforest, many of them thought to have been started deliberately in Brazil, drawing international concern because of the Amazon’s importance to the global environment.

Hundreds of new fires flared up in the Amazon in Brazil this week, even as military aircraft have been called in to help, and the G7 pledge came.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the offer was available to any Amazonian countries that wanted to take it up.

But Mr Lorenzoni told a Brazilian news website on Tuesday that Brazil did not need the help.

“Brazil is a democratic, free nation and has never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps the objective of the French Macron,” he said.

“Can Macron not even prevent a predictable fire in a church that is a world heritage site and [he] wants to teach what to our country? He has a lot to look after at home.”

brazil rejects g7 fires
President Bolsonaro (right) with his chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni. Photo: Getty

Mr Macron has been locked in a war of words with Brazlian President Jair Bolsonaro.

The French President last week accused Mr Bolsonaro of lying about his environmental commitments, while the Brazilian leader has mocked the looks of the French leader’s 66-year-old wife, Brigitte.

Within minutes of the G7 offer of help, Mr Bolsonaro said Brazil was being treated like “a colony or no man’s land”, and denounced the creation of an international alliance to save the Amazon as an attack on his nation’s sovereignty.

But Mr Macron, who had called the Amazon fires a global emergency, pushed the disaster to the top of the G7 agenda and said the member states were ready to provide concrete help.

“France will do so with military support in the coming hours,” he said, without giving further details.

Amazon rainforest is also burning in Bolivia, and that country’s president, Evo Morales, has welcomed the offer of help to fight the fires.

“We salute the position of #G7 announcing its willingness to urgently help countries affected by fires in the Amazon. We invite the president brother @EmmanuelMacron and his colleagues to come to Bolivia to directly execute cooperation commitments,” he said.

The Bolivian leader said that the members of the G7 ‘must understand that the fire in the Amazon is an urgent call to move from worry to action”.

Canada would send water bombers to Brazil to help contain the blaze and would contribute $C15 million ($A17 million) in aid, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the end of the G7.

“One of the things we have seen over the past years as Canada has faced increasingly extreme wildfire events is there is a global network of support and friends that lean on each other,” he said.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who was invited to join the wealthy-nation leaders in the French seaside resort of Biarritz, said the G7 plan would be implemented in two stages.

“Countries urgently need firefighters and specialised water bombers. This will be the first step that will be implemented immediately. The second phase is to protect these forests, protect the biodiversity they contain and reforest this region of the world,” he added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also promised Brazil an $18 million donation to help.

But Australia appears unlikely to join the international effort. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this country would merely keep an eye on the pledges.

“That should be well within the means of those countries for which this is their primary sphere,” he said in Biarritz.

“This is not directly in our sphere but it is the lungs of the world and we understand it’s important.”

-with AAP