In an immediate response to a request for assistance from Greece, the EU provided firefighting planes to help stop the spread of forest fires in several parts of the country, including in the outskirts of Athens. Greece has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism on Friday afternoon to request the forest firefighting planes. In a matter of hours the EU responded thanks to France that made available its firefighting planes from the voluntary pool of EU’s civil protection assets.
“The EU stands by Greece to help in the response to this natural disaster. We have responded quickly and in full solidarity to the call for assistance. The Commission is grateful to France for its immediate reaction that made the deployment of the planes from the voluntary pool possible. We continue our close contact with the relevant authorities in Athens,” said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
France contributed 2 Canadair firefighting planes and a plane that ensures coordination. This is the first time that planes have been activated from the EU’s civil protection pool of assets for fighting forest fires.
The planes will be deployed from France tomorrow and should arrive to Greece in the afternoon.
The fires broke out on 16 July 2015 in Athens (Region of Attica), Milesi (North of Athens), Evoia (area of Halkida) and in Lakonia (Region of Peloponnese) threatening homes and forcing people to flee. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is actively monitoring the fires throughout Europe. It uses national monitoring services and tools such as EFFIS (the European Forest Fire Information System) and satellite imagery to provide an overview of the situation in Europe. Over the summer period, the ERCC also organises weekly coordination meetings with the countries that are at high risk of forest fires.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates the cooperation in disaster response among 33 European states (28 EU Member States, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway and Serbia). These participating states pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the EU. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the ERCC.