Flooding in Germany and Central Europe, catastrophic fires in the southern and south-eastern parts of the continent. Many parts of Europe are currently in a state of crisis, with people fighting to save their homes and possessions – and in some cases for their survival. Many are grieving for family members and friends who have lost their lives, some people are still missing, and the injured are receiving treatment in hospital.
At the same time, these emergency situations are revealing a Europe of compassion and solidarity which is equally apparent between north and south, and between east and west.
Firefighters from North Rhine-Westphalia arrive in Greece
Germany’s assistance with fighting the forest fires in Greece currently comprises around 220 firefighters in total with almost 50 vehicles, chiefly from North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse. Fifty-six firefighters with 19 vehicles, including a so-called forest fire module, have arrived in Greece by land from North Rhine-Westphalia and are preparing for their tasks. An advance team from Hesse is also already on the ground to prepare for the deployment of another 164 firefighters with 27 vehicles.
In addition to the German fire services, there are fire crews from at least ten other EU member states, which are being coordinated within the context of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). The Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis drew attention to this assistance via Twitter on 8 August under the heading “Thank you”, illustrating it with concrete statistics. Within the context of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, which can also work outside the EU, the Federal Government is helping to cover part of the associated costs.
In addition to the firefighting in Greece, the UCPM is also coordinating the deployment of European helpers in Italy, Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey. For example, since 3 August up to three aerial firefighters from Spain and Croatia have been deployed in Turkey, and Poland has provided a helitanker. This underscores the fact that European solidarity does not halt at the borders of the European Union.
“Dziekujemy Polsko” – thank you very much for Poland’s assistance in Germany
While specialist German firefighters are helping to tackle the forest fires in Greece, Polish fire fighters have almost at the same time been supplying hundreds of dehumidifiers to the regions in Germany hit by the severe flooding. After three lorry-loads with more than 150 dehumidifiers were delivered to Düren on 27 July, the fire brigade headquarters in Warsaw delivered another 150 industrial dehumidifiers to the Ahrweiler district on 9 August.
German firefighters in Greece, Polish firefighters in Germany, Spanish and Croatian aerial firefighters in Turkey – European solidarity is currently proving its worth in specific emergency situations.