The EU Delegation, the Netherlands Embassy and the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tirana held today a joint meeting at Mother Theresa Airport with the Ministry of Defence and the National Agency of Civil Protection on the situation of forest fires in Albania.
Representatives of the Dutch and Czech helicopter teams present at the event, shared their evaluation and first-hand insights on the recent situation. During the last week, the Member Sates’ teams of a combined 50 specialised personnel have engaged in fighting wildfires in the country with more than 170 flight hours and with more than 450 drops of water.
Albania has been affected by wildfires throughout several parts of its territory since mid-July, where hundreds of hectares of forests, pastures and thousands of olive trees have been destroyed in several regions across the country.
EU Delegation Head of Political Section Alexis Hupin noted that the European Union and its Member States will continue to stand by Albania in these difficult times as it has done before in previous instances. “EU assistance has helped Albania decisively: in the past during the floods, more recently when the earthquake and COVID struck the country, and now against the forest fires. We will stand by Albania to save lives and protect the environment,” Mr Hupin said.
The air support with helicopters, which are still battling wildfires in the country, was made possible through the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EU ECHO) together with the Dutch and Czech authorities. EU ECHO provides assistance for the affected countries and populations whenever there is a disaster or humanitarian emergency. Following Albania’s request of assistance on wildfires, the mechanism responded in short time.
From 6 August, Member States’ helicopter teams have relentlessly assisted in extinguishing fires throughout Albania, from the southern coastline and to the northern highlands, contributing in saving lives and livelihood, and to protect the country’s nature and national parks.
In addition, since 12 August, Copernicus Emergency Management Service, which is also Europe’s eyes on Earth, has been is providing rapid mapping of the Albanian territory with satellite imagery to detect and provide assessment of fires in due time.
The European Union has supported Albania through its emergency response mechanisms to address several crises and difficult moments, recently including on the 26 November earthquake and the support to address the COVID-19 pandemic.