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Brussels, 1 December 2008

India – Mumbai terror attacks – coordinated EU action to evacuate injured European citizens

Following the tragic events in India that have already claimed more than 170 lives, the European Union, through its Community Civil Protection Mechanism, helped evacuate injured European citizens. EU Member States, namely France and Sweden, joined forces to provide medical evacuation for citizens from the UK and Spain.

EU rescue efforts began on Thursday 27 November when France, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union, activated the Community Civil Protection Mechanism with a request for medical evacuation facilities for European citizens in support of consular assistance provided to European citizens.

At the same time, France and Spain had made a plane available to ensure the first evacuation of uninjured European citizens. Commission officials from the EC Delegation had helped the French Presidency and other Member States to coordinate this action

EU rescue efforts culminated on Sunday afternoon when a plane left Mumbai carrying on board three UK citizens and three Spanish citizens together with the medical team made available by Sweden. Five were injured, two seriously and one suffering from psychological trauma. The plane landed in London at 07h00 UTC this morning, where one of the Spanish patients will need to receive further medical assistance before being able to travel back to Spain.

Within hours of the request for medevac facilities, Sweden had offered an aircraft, made available as a result of a joint arrangement between the Swedish Rescue Services Agency, the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority and Scandinavian Airlines. On Friday 28 November, France requested Sweden to put this arrangement into operation. The Community Mechanism also received offers of transport resources from Austria and Greece which were kept on stand-by in case they were also required. Other Member States indicated that they could also make such assistance available if needed.

The Swedish plane was mobilised over the weekend, together with two experts (from France and Sweden) contracted by the Community Civil Protection Mechanism to assist the coordination of the operation. Commission officials from the EC Delegation in India facilitated cooperation between Member States' consulates in Mumbai to help identify European citizens that were in need of medical evacuation.

The experts sent to facilitate the coordination of the operation reported that the operation had been successful – well-timed and necessary, with the local hospitals in Mumbai struggling to give the necessary care to the many Indian citizens injured in the terrible events.

Under arrangements agreed in 2007 between European Member States, the Commission will be able to co-finance the costs of the transportation by Sweden of this medevac aircraft.

The Community Mechanism for Civil Protection

The Community Mechanism[1] aims to facilitate reinforced cooperation in civil protection assistance interventions. It ensures the coordination of assistance intervention in order to provide prompt support and to assist a country (inside and outside the European Union) in need of help. The main objective is to provide the best possible response and preparedness when a major emergency situation arises.

Such activities are coordinated by the Commission through the activation of its Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), located in DG Environment, Civil Protection Unit.

30 states[2] participate in the Community Mechanism. These pool those resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world through this mechanism.

For more information

Civil Protection Unit:

[1] Council Decision of 8 November (2007/779/EC, Euratom) (OJ L314, 01.12.2007, p.9)

[2] EU 27, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway

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