As several countries grapple with rapidly spreading wildfires, the European Union is stepping in to reinforce firefighting efforts and provide much-needed support to the affected communities with over 490 firefighters and nine firefighting planes deployed to Greece and Tunisia since July 18, the European Commission said on July 26.
The two Mediterranean countries have activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and the EU has swiftly replied.
Ten countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Italy, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia) are contributing to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism’s response to the wildfires in Greece.
In total, more than 490 firefighters and seven aircraft have been deployed to different areas of the country, the statement said.
One EU Liaison Officer is supporting the coordination of operations in Greece and the EU’s Copernicus satellite mapping is providing damage assessment on several areas in the Attica region and Rhodes.
In addition, two Canadairs from the rescEU reserve hosted by Spain are being deployed to northwest Tunisia.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “The wildfires ravaging the Mediterranean region require an immediate and united response.
“The European Union, through its Civil Protection Mechanism, stands in full solidarity with and readiness to support the affected countries. Together, we are deploying available resources to fight the fires and protect our citizens and landscapes,” Lenarčič said.
“I would also like to express my heartfelt sympathy and support to the families and colleagues of the two Greek firefighters who lost their lives yesterday when their firefighting plane crashed on the Greek island of Evia. This is the worst reminder of how first responders put their lives in danger to save others and our environment,” he said.
(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)