How prepared was the country to deal with forest fires? – Government – Politics

chairman gustavo petro This Thursday in Tumaco, Nariño it was announced that National government It will activate a protocol to ask for help from the United Nations and thus face more strongly the great challenge the country is going through. Forest fire.

(Also: UN Security Council members to arrive in Colombia on February 7).

For a head of state, it is essential to have all the tools available to face an incident that shows no signs of stopping. The latest report from the National Risk Management Unit warns that the state of emergency in Colombia has reached critical levels, with 21 active wildfires in different areas. From Kumaribo (Vichada) to Guarané (Antioquia).

Furthermore, since the official declaration of the El Niño phenomenon in the country on November 3, 906 wildfires have been recorded in Colombia according to the National Fire Department. This figure is much higher than that recorded by the UNGRD, which accounts for only 360 wildfires, which have affected 189 municipalities and destroyed 7,401 hectares of land.

Environment Minister Susana Muhammad, who accompanied the President at the so-called takeover of the Pacific, said 977 municipalities were on alert, representing 86 percent of the national territory. Of these, 681 are on red alert.

President Petro in Lopez de Miqué

President Petro announced measures from Cauca.


Alexa Rochi. Presidency

In any case, these warnings do not mean that there are flames in 977 regional entities, but rather that specific conditions have been met (five days without rain and high temperatures that generate hot spots), Which create the ideal scenario for their emergence or for flames to spread easily through vegetation cover. These alerts have already appeared in the departments that are currently most affected by the fires, such as Cundinamarca (with 112 municipalities on red alert), Boyacá (100) and Tolima (45).

And in the current situation, according to Ghisliane Echeverri, director of Ideam, the country may face the warmest January since records have been kept, i.e. in a little more than 30 years.

Several factors have come together in national climate change, such as a dry season (typical of the season), a strong El Niño event, and a climate crisis that affects the planet’s climate. “What is happening is that the El Nino phenomenon is intensifying the dry season. Moreover, we are in the context of the climate crisis. We have recorded 2023 as the hottest year ever. “All these events are transforming the country,” Echeverri says.

The most worrying thing is that El Nino is currently in the maturity stage and we may feel the worst effects by February, when experts expect that high temperature records will continue to be broken. Additionally, this January has been historically dry and the same is expected for February; Only by March can rainfall return to normal, although, according to Echeverri, this does not automatically lead to a decrease in temperatures.

(You may be interested: UN on President Petro’s request for help: ‘The first step has been taken’).

fire in bogota

On January 25, Bogota lit up like this because of the fire.


Mauricio Moreno. Time

Given this scenario, the government has decided to request all possible help to deal with the emergencies that are currently active and according to experts, this will continue as the temperatures continue to rise and no rain is recorded. It has happened, as is expected. According to the idea.

“We have activated all protocols to seek international help. “To the extent that we know that crisis events are going to increase, we want to make sure that we have the physical capacity to contain and mitigate them.”President Petro said.

The response came immediately. “The United Nations is concerned about the situation caused by the fires affecting Bogotá and various areas of Colombia and has expressed its desire to support the country. “The first steps have been taken to mobilize international assistance and negotiations are being continued with local and national authorities until the relevant assistance request is formalized.”He told EL Tiempo from the United Nations Information Center in Colombia.

Like wildfire, the debate over the political responsibilities of the emergency is spreading to such an extent that Democratic Center spokesmen announced a summons to Interior Minister Luis Fernando Velasco to answer for political control in Congress.

Democratic Center senator María Fernanda Cabal wrote on her ‘X’ account: “Petro, expert in crazy speeches, but useless in effective action to help Colombia. A year ago I sent a plane to Chile to fight fires, while today there is no way to employ it to fight fires in Colombia.

For this reason, Cabal assured that he would summon Velasco to Congress so that “along with other officials they can explain to the country why the budget for firefighters was reduced by 25 percent until 2024.” “This government despises the citizens.”

While Luis Carlos Barreto, Deputy Director of Risk Knowledge of the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD), believes that more resources were lacking to face these emergencies. “Given the entire situation, larger investments could have been made,” the official admitted publicly.

NASA map shows reports of fires in Colombia

NASA satellite report on the hot spot.

(Also read: Regional environmental alert for fires in Bogotá: Extreme and Plate extended until Saturday).

The opposition questions not only the budget cuts to firefighters, but also the fact that there was no technologically updated air fleet to respond immediately. Congresswoman Katherine Miranda of the Green Alliance also questioned the reasons that prevented the use of Hercules C-130 aircraft equipped with firefighting technology, which releases more than 3,000 gallons of water.

In view of this, General Carlos Silva, second commander of the Aerospace Force, admitted that it could not be used due to lack of maintenance, a task that must be carried out with the resources made available by the UNGRD, but in any case The system cannot be repaired. It is used in capital cities due to the force of the discharge, although it can also be used on marshy ground fires.

In any case, the current emergency and what is to come for Colombia is a huge challenge, as countries like wildfire have tested and won the battle against in the climate crisis scenario. The United States, Canada or Australia, where flames have easily consumed areas larger than the entire Colombian Caribbean.

Politics and Environment Editorial

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