Jakarta. The United States will donate $2.75 million to assist Indonesian authorities combatting the most severe forest fires in living memory.
“This assistance is part of the United States’ wider effort to support Indonesian activities to suppress forest fires and to mitigate their effects on human health, as well as to support Indonesian government efforts to prevent future forest fires,” US Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., said in a statement obtained by the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
Blake said the package, which includes funding from the US Agency for International Development, will provide equipment and protective gear to ground-based firefighting crews in Central Kalimantan and other provinces worst hit by the fires.
He added that a team of technical advisers from the US Forest Service would arrive in Indonesia this week to provide support, including additional shipment of protective clothing for firefighters, and assist with the operational coordination, remote sensing and imagery efforts of the Indonesian government.
Nearly two million hectares of forest and peat have been razed so far this year to make way for plantations serving the oil palm and pulp industries, with six provinces in Kalimantan and Sumatra reported as hardest-struck by the consequential haze, including Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.
Indonesia has recorded its second-worst haze crisis which has emitted more than 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide as of last week, according to data from the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI), using finding from the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED).
The report said that the staggering figure had surpassed the 2006 records, but was still far below the 1997 when the country produced almost 4.5 billion tons of the greenhouse gas.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has labeled the haze crisis a crime against humanity.