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European Commission - Press release

Albania receives more EU assistance to fight forest fires

Brussels, 31 August 2011 - Due to the big forest fires affecting its North-East regions, Albania has received further assistance through the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism. The European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) reacted immediately to Albania's request for help and liaised with Member States; in result, Italy offered two CL415 water-bombing aircrafts to further support Albania.

"I would like to personally thank Italy for its prompt and effective engagement at a moment when Albania was struggling to cope with raging forest fires. I am confident that, thanks to the solidarity of one of our Member States, there will be a quick end to this emergency," said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis response.

"As always, the Monitoring and Information Centre is on the alert, ready to coordinate any further European assistance and keeping Participating States updated on new developments,” the Commissioner added.

Due to high temperatures and strong winds, more than 50 forest fires are still burning in Albania. On 29 August, large forest fires were raging in four areas which triggered Albania to renew its request for fire-fighting assistance. Yesterday, Italy responded to the request and deployed two CL415 to Albania. The planes are operating in the area across the regions of Mat and Diber. On 30 August, they performed seven missions and did 24 water drops.

Albania has suffered large-scale forest fires in recent days. On 25 August the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) of the European Commission and the participating states to the Mechanism received a request from Greece and Albania.

In response to this request, Italy already offered one CL415 aircraft that was in operation on 26 August in two different areas: close to Valona and close to Miras.

Background

The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 31 European states (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The participating countries 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 European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC).

Since 2001, the CPM has reacted to more than a hundred disasters worldwide, among them Hurricane Katrina in the USA (2005), the earthquake in Haiti (2010) and the earthquake/tsunami in Japan (2011). In the past two forest fire seasons, the Civil Protection Mechanism was activated 20 times for forest fires inside and outside Europe.

For more information

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The European Commission's civil protection work:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/civil_protection/civil/index.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)


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