Bosnia and Herzegovina / Croatia / EU — The European Commission Emergency Response Centre (ERC) is facilitating the urgent provision of assistance to fight the growing forest fires in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Two fire-fighting planes, offered by Croatia, are already deployed in the affected area thanks to a quick coordination operation done by the ERC.
Yet again, European cooperation in civil protection is proving its practical value. Croatia, our newest Member State, is showing exemplary solidarity with its neighbor, said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
“We must remain vigilant the forest fires season is in its midst and the risks are high in most of Southern Europe. The Emergency Response Centre is in regular contact with the countries in the highest risk. We are ready to help if other fires overwhelm the national capacities,” the Commissioner added.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has suffered large-scale forest fires since early August. The situation is most critical in the area of the municipality of Jablanica, west of Sarajevo, where the fires are out of control. The state of natural disaster caused by wildfires was declared for this municipality.
The national authorities have already deployed significant fire-fighting capacities, including military forces. However, given the high temperatures, the weather forecast for the coming days predicting more heat and wind, and the difficult access to the affected area, Bosnia and Herzegovina has asked for European support to extinguish the fires by aerial means. Upon receiving the request, the ERC has communicated it to all countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Croatia has made the water-bombing aeroplanes available to help its neighbour.
The ERC is actively monitoring the forest fire risks and evolution across Europe. It organises regular information exchange with the affected and uses national monitoring services and tools such as EFFIS (the European Forest Fire Information System), maps and satellite images to provide an overview of the situation in Europe.
Background The Emergency Response Centre of the European Commission co-ordinates assistance on the European level in the case of disasters and in this way ensures that help is efficient and effective.
The European Civil Protection Mechanism was activated 18 times over the last three summers to respond to forest fires inside and outside Europe. During the 2012 forest fire season nine requests for assistance were received. Bulgaria, Montenegro, Albania, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and, Portugal activated the Mechanism requesting aerial means. In addition, the satellite mapping service has been activated nine times in response to forest fires related emergencies in 2012.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates the cooperation in disaster response among 32 European states (EU Member States, FYROM, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world.