Latin America & the Caribbean: Weekly Situation Update (19-26 August 2019) - As of 26 August 2019
1.8K FAMILIES AFFECTED BY FIRES IN SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA
744K HECTARES OF LAND BURNED BY FIRES IN SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA
44K MILITARY PERSONNEL DEPLOYED TO SIX STATES IN BRAZIL TO RESPOND TO WIDESPREAD FIRES
40K HECTARES OF LAND BURNED BY FIRES IN PARAGUAY
SOUTH AMERICA: WILDFIRES
Speaking to the media in Santa Cruz on 19 August, President Evo Morales said that he ordered evacuations in the Roboré municipality, later saying the fires have been controlled by around 70 per cent. According to Bolivia's Defense Minister, as of 23 August, the fires have ravaged more than 744,000 hectares of land in 35 communities across 11 municipalities in Santa Cruz, adding that there are 1,817 families affected.
The Ministry of Defense is working with the armed forces, national police, volunteers and Santa Cruz departmental government in Roboré, totaling some 3,700 people involved in the response.
Morales said on 25 August that he instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense to begin the process of requesting international help. Bolivia says that Argentina, Chile and Peru have offered their assistance. Morales is also reporting that the Andean Development Corporation – Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) has pledged a donation of at least US$500,000.
According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), there are 72,843 fires currently detected in the Amazon rainforest, an 83 per cent increase over the same reporting period in 2018 and the highest since records began in 2013.
Smoke from fires in the states of Amazonas and Rondonia reached as far as Sao Paulo, some 2,700km away. The European Union’s satellite program shows smoke spreading across Brazil towards the eastern Atlantic, covering nearly half of Brazil and crossing into Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru.
Amazonas declared an emergency for its southern areas on 9 August, while Acre issued an environmental alert on 16 August. Some 44,000 troops deployed on 24 August to Acre, Mato Grosso, Para, Rondonia, Roraima and Tocantins.
Fires throughout the northern Paraguayan department of Alto Paraguay have prompted response measures from authorities led by the National Emergency Secretariat (SEN).
Alto Paraguay lies on the border with areas in both Bolivia and Brazil that are also dealing with massive fires - the Bolivian Environment Minister announced on 22 August that the Governments of Bolivia and Paraguay will work together to fight the fires threatening both their countries.
The Paraguayan Senate approved a 60-day emergency declaration on 22 August as well, allowing accelerated disbursement of response funds to affected local governments. The fires in Paraguay have burned nearly 40,000 hectares of land, according to the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development. SEN officials reported on 23 August that the fires have been completely extinguished, largely in part to rains over affected areas, and that the ongoing fires in Bolivia have not crossed into Paraguay.