Aug. 23 (UPI) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that his government does not have the resources to combat a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Bolsonaro told reporters that he doesn’t have the ability to have the Interior Ministry send a team to the rainforest to combat the fires spreading throughout more than half of the Amazon region.
“Forty men to fight a fire? There aren’t the resources. This chaos has arrived,” he said.
Satellite data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research released this week showed that the number of fires in Brazil has increased more than 80 percent from the same period last year.
Bolsonaro said he believes the fires are manmade but denied “directly” accusing non-governmental organizations of starting them in retaliation for his decision to cut their funding.
“The Indians, do you want me to blame the Indians? Do you want me to blame the Martians? Everyone is a suspect, but the biggest suspects are NGOs,” he said.
He also said the government lacks the resources to monitor or combat any groups that may be setting the fires.
“The Amazon is bigger than Europe,” he said. “How will you fight criminal fires in such an area?”
Norway and Germany have suspended funding for projects to curb deforestation in Brazil due to the way Bolsonaro handled those projects, however, the president has said that funding isn’t needed.