EU | Supplies Greece with Canadairs and airplanes for the fires
Defence Redefined
Published on 01/06/2023 at 12:00

With the financing of two Canandairs, one helicopter, and two lighter airplanes, Greece will benefit from the doubling of European aviation means to fight forest fires in the summer of 2023.

At the same time, in July and August, 205 firefighters from different countries will be able to settle in the country.

Zacharias Giakoumis, head of communication of the DG European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), explained to the representatives of the press the protection measures in view of the fire season, presented on Tuesday (30/5) by the responsible commissioner Yanes Lenarcits. Forest fires are worrying more and more European countries and the trend of their occurrence in the last fifteen years is increasing.

In particular, referring to the Emergency Coordination Center (ERCC), he noted that it is at the core of the effort, has experts, has open channels with state authorities and humanitarian organizations, and in addition to the member-states, 9 other countries participate in it.

The mechanism was significantly strengthened in 2019 with the same means, (rescue system) flying, after the big fires in Portugal, protective, to deal with the coronavirus (masks, respirators), and means of energy support (generators, transformers sent to Ukraine). Climate change, the coronavirus, and the war in Ukraine have exacerbated the problems, he said.

Activation of civil protection used to take place 20 times a year, while in 2022 it increased to 232, with requests from Ukraine at the top. Greece has activated the mechanism 25 times since 2005, of which 18-19 were for firefighting reasons.

In 2021, there was the largest mobilization of the mechanism to deal with fires in Greece, with help from 11 countries with 9 Canandairs and helicopters and the mobilization of more than 1,000 firefighters and 200 vehicles. Today, the biggest mobilization is for Ukraine.

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2017, with 1 million hectares burned – an area 10% larger than Cyprus – and the loss of 130 people in Portugal, was a bad year for Europe. 2022 was also a bad year, with 20 states experiencing burned areas above the annual average, but for Greece, things went better.

In Greece, the average burned area between 2007-2022 was around 50,000 hectares, while in 2022 it was halved, to 25,000 hectares, and our country even sent aid to other countries.

According to EFFIS (European Forest Fire Information System), cited by Mr. Giakoumis, 2023 is estimated to be a difficult period with temperatures above average. Last year two-thirds of Europe was affected by drought and fires, and this year more drought is expected in Northeast and Southeast Europe.

The rescue will help this year with a double firefighting fleet of 28 aircraft, which Greece will also have at its disposal, in the context of practical European solidarity.

The support to the member-states will also be done with the satellite mapping of the Copernicus program, the maps of which can be sent in a few hours.

Prevention, preparation, warning, response, and security are the five objectives of European Civil Protection, some of which have been implemented and others are ongoing.

Also read: Cyprus | Cyprus Police motorcyclists are trained by the Hellenic Police




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