EU Civil Protection Mechanism activated to help Greece fighting fires

Three forest fighting planes of rescEU reserve from Italy and Spain dispatched to the affected regions

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides (R) and Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Athens, 14 August.

Following a request for assistance from Greece on 13 August 2019, rescEU assets have been mobilised to tackle forest fires ravaging several areas of Greece, European Commission press service reported. As an immediate response, the EU has already helped to mobilise 3 forest fighting planes from rescEU reserve from Italy and Spain to be dispatched swiftly to the affected regions.

The rescEU is the EU's strengthened EU Civil Protection Mechanism, whose reserve includes firefighting planes and helicopters. Through rescEU, the EU reinforces its collective ability to respond to disasters that affect European countries. This is the first ever deployment of the rescEU assets.

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "The EU stands in full solidarity with Greece at this difficult time. The planes are already in action, fighting the fires. This immediate response proves the added value of rescEU which makes our response more robust, quick and efficient. Moreover, this is a real example of the common European values on which rescEU is based: solidarity and protection of lives of our European citizens. I am thankful to Italy and Spain for their offers of assistance. We stand ready to provide further assistance.”

Commissioner Stylianides arrived in Athens on Wednesday, met with PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and visited the Crisis Centre of the Greek Civil Protection. To date, all EU Member States participate in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, as well as Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Turkey. Since its inception in 2001, the Mechanism has responded to more than 300 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU.

The European satellite mapping system Copernicus is helping to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas.

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