Indonesia’s ongoing fires, the worst in its history, have been raging for the past six months, with no sign of relenting. They’ve pushed air quality to unprecedented unhealthy levels in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, while smoke has forced some schools to close, airlines to delay and cancel flights, and has left more than half a million Indonesians suffering from respiratory ailments. Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency called them a “crime against humanity of extraordinary proportions.”
Air pollution has been an annual problem for the past 18 years in Indonesia. It’s caused by the illegal burning of forest and peat fires on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo to clear new land for the production of pulp, paper, and palm oil. Singapore and Malaysia have offered to help the Indonesian government to fight against the fires, while authorities are conducting investigations of hundreds of Southeast Asian firms in connection with these.
Neighboring countries and the entire international community have been putting more pressure on Indonesia to control the fires ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this week.