LISBON – The European Commission announced Thursday it had proposed a financial aid package worth 50.6 million euros ($6.3 million) to alleviate the effects of massive forest fires that devastated Portugal in 2017.
According to a statement issued by the EC’s Lisbon delegation, the funds will contribute to alleviating Portugal’s reconstruction efforts and cover some of the costs of emergency services, temporary accommodation, clean-up operations and protection of cultural heritage, in order to relieve the nation’s financial burden.
The European commissioner for research, science and innovation, Carlos Moedas, tweeted on his official social media account the EU Solidarity Fund had “decided to allocate Portugal a 50 million euro financial aid package through the European Solidarity Fund,” adding it “demonstrated, once again, that the European Commission and all are on Portugal’s side in difficult times.”
Moedas also said a new European Civil Protection would soon be operational and would respond to such large-scale disasters in future.
In all, the EC will offer a total of 104 million euros from its EU Solidarity Fund to France, Greece, Spain, and Portugal in the wake of their respective natural disasters.
Besides the Portuguese financial aid package, France will obtain 49 million euros to counter the devastation suffered after hurricanes Irma and Maria in its regions in the Caribbean, namely Saint-Martin and Guadeloupe.
Greece will be offered 1.3 million euros and Spain 3.2 million euros following massive fires that devastated the northern Galician region last summer.
Portugal registered 17,698 forest fires in 2017, resulting in the deaths of 109 people and the razing of over half a million hectares; its worst statistics in over two decades.
The worst fire took place on June 17, 2017 in the Pedrógão Grande region, which killed 64 and injured over 250.