July 3, 2020 | News | No Comments
The Brazilian government has accepted £10m in aid from the United Kingdom to battle the devastating wave of forest fires in the Amazon region.
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In a meeting between Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Araújo on Tuesday evening, Brazil agreed to receive the financial aid from the UK, days after rejecting a similar offer from G7 countries.
Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed $22m in G7 assistance amid the bullish head of state’s war of words with French president Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Bolsonaro on Wednesday doubled down on his statement that he would only accept the G7 funds if he received a personal apology from Mr Macron.
"The French government called me a liar," he said, according to Reuters news agency. "Only after it has recanted what it said about me… and the Brazilian people, who do not accept this diminution of the Amazon’s sovereignty … then we can talk again."
The French president called Mr Bolsonaro a "liar" last week, after Brazil’s leader promised to respect the country’s climate commitments when the two met at June’s G20 summit.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Bolsonaro called a meeting with governors from Brazil’s nine Amazonian states. Governors or Amazônia, Pará and Roraima urged the president to accept the financial aid from G7 countries.
Helder Barbalho, governor of Pará, claimed that Mr Bolsonaro had "wasted a lot of time" by squabbling with Emmanuel Macron.
The Left-wing governor of Maranhão, Flavio Dino, warned of the risk of Brazil being frozen out on the world stage.
"Dialogue with other countries is indispensable. If Brazil isolates itself, we risk being exposed to severe trade sanctions", he said.
With the meeting being broadcast live on Mr Bolsonaro’s social media channels, the president made use of the opportunity to address his electorate, often looking directly at the camera as opposed to the governors present at the meeting.
Over 75,000 fires have plagued the Amazon rainforest in the month of August, drawing international criticism for Jair Bolsonaro’s permissive stance towards deforestation.
In the worst affected areas, the wave of fires has become a public health issue.
In the city of Porto Velho, the capital of the Amazonian state of Rondônia, a local children’s hospital has reportedly treated an average of 50 young people per day with respiratory problems since the beginning of August.
Meanwhile, embattled environment minister Ricardo Salles was hospitalised in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Early reports that he had suffered a heart attack have been dismissed. He remains in intensive care and his condition is stable.