Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro Authorizes Military to Battle Massive Amazon Rainforest Fire

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption One campaigner called the forest fires a

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption One campaigner called the forest fires a"vicious cycle

Pope Francis on Sunday voiced concern for the Amazon rainforest, a "vital" lung for the planet, as the worst blazes in years have sparked a global outcry.

The pontiff, who is from the South American nation of Argentina that borders Brazil, told the public in St. Peter's Square that "we're all worried" about the vast Amazon fires.

The Amazon rainforest is home to about three million species of plants and animals and one million indigenous people and fires continue to destroy much of the beloved forest.

An official at Macron's office said the French leader had later explained his position to Merkel.

Since August 15, more than 9,500 new forest fires have started across Brazil, primarily in the Amazon basin.

The dispute spilled into the economic arena when French leader Emmanuel Macron threatened to block a European Union trade deal with Brazil and several other South American countries.

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The second image is particularly striking and shows a young boy on a bicycle just metres away from a raging fire.

In the Cypriot capital Nicosia, a sign tied to the railings of Brazil's diplomatic mission read: "The Amazon belongs to Earth not to the Brazilian president".

Brazilian officials said the military was uniquely equipped to battle the fires and help enforce environmental laws.

Macron last week accused Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's government of not doing enough to protect the area and of lying about its environmental commitments.

"While respecting sovereignty, we must have a goal of reforestation and we must help each country to develop economically", he said.

Bolivia has also struggled to contain fires that swept through woods and fields.

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Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Sunday he would welcome aid in fighting his own country's wildfires, which have scorched more than 2,900 square miles (744,000 hectares) of land in the Chiquitanía region over the past two weeks.

Global Forest Watch, an organisation sponsored by the World Resources Institute, monitors forests and tracks fires, using satellite data.

Farmers commonly set fires in this season to clear land for crops or livestock, but sometimes the blazes get out of control.

Brazilian satellite data has shown that the number of wildfires in the country jumped by 83 percent so far in 2019 compared to the corresponding period previous year. Firefighters and planes are also being deployed.

Environmentalists say that those setting the fires have been emboldened because they hear Bolsonaro calling for more development of the Amazon and think they will not be punished.

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