European Union External Action

EU leads international support following earthquakes in Albania

27/12/2019 - 08:00
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The European Union and its Member States immediately offered their assistance with search and rescue operations, post-disaster assessment of damages and coordinating donor efforts to help Albania rebuild itself after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake and the numerous aftershocks that have hit the country since 26 November.

European Union Civil Protection

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake, which hit Albania on 26 November followed by hundreds of aftershocks, caused the loss of 51 lives and injured many more. The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism was activated immediately afterwards at the request of the Albanian authorities. The EU swiftly mobilised teams to assist with search and rescue operations. Luigi Soreca, EU ambassador to Albania highlighted "We are proud of the efficiency of our EU Civil Protection mechanism. It took only 18 hours after its activation to set up a team of 11 experts led by Peter Glerum and dispatch them to Albania. Coming from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, they now coordinate the humanitarian response."

European Union Civil Protection

Post-disaster assessment of damages followed in a second phase of the EU response and assistance. Albanian and international engineers have assessed 1,850 buildings that were identified as critical by the Albanian authorities in 10 affected municipalities. While the Albanian engineers are leading these assessments, the international experts continue to share their knowledge and assist where needed until their mission ends.

Visiting the teams on the ground, EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca said: "International and Albanian engineers are working closely together in the affected areas. There is an impressive commitment by all engineers on the ground to assess the damages caused by the earthquake. The international engineers are also intensively training their Albanian colleagues, transferring them their technical expertise in view of the phasing out of the international presence.”

In a third phase, the European Union will focus on helping Albania rebuild itself with a mid- to long-term perspective. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission announced that the EU will support the Albanian people with €15 million following the devastating earthquake. The EU has also allocated €300,000 in immediate emergency funding to provide vulnerable people with shelter, food and psychosocial support. A donors' conference will be organised in January 2020 to help Albania with the reconstruction. “Solidarity is at the heart of our European Union. It binds together our cultures, ethnicities, and languages,” highlighted Soreca. [

EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, held his first field visit as Europe’s Emergency Response Coordinator in Albania on 5 December, a day after the President of the European Commission.

Following a request from the Albanian authorities, a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) is under preparation by the EU, World Bank and United Nations.

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