Madame La Préfète, Dear Mayor,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for being here today. This is a very special day. I am here to launch the EU Saves Lives campaign in the beautiful city of Lyon!
Dear Mayor, I would like to thank you for hosting the EU Saves Lives campaign in your city.
After 12 other European cities (six last year and six this year so far), the campaign makes a stop here, in Lyon Ecully.
With this campaign we want to bring the EU emergency response closer to the people. Closer to you.
We want to show you our efforts:
- To save lives.
- To assist people in emergencies.
During conflicts and natural disasters. Inside and outside Europe. Because European solidarity – OUR solidarity – has no borders.
Together with our Member States we are the world's leading donor in humanitarian aid.
We fund projects that save the lives of millions of people suffering in violent conflicts.
We help children go back to school.
We are present whenever and wherever it is needed. In Syria. Myanmar. South Sudan.
We support the Congolese authorities in containing the Ebola virus in their country. Right now.
At the same time we provide response to disasters. Forest fires. Floods. Earthquakes.
Thanks to the European Civil Protection Mechanism. This Mechanism helps us save lives in critical moments.
The facts speak for themselves: from North to South, East and West, Europe has experienced devastating wildfires in the past years.
France has requested the support of the European Civil Protection Mechanism two (2) times. In 2016 and 2017. Due to extensive summer forest fires.
This is why we adopted recently an improved structure for the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Called rescEU.
Our European citizens have called for a Europe that protects. We have heard the call. And we are delivering!
An extra “safety net” to be activated when national capacities are overwhelmed.
To be better prepared. And better equipped.
rescEU is already operational. We launched recently an initial European firefighting aircraft fleet. The first of its kind. To be ready for this year’s fire season.
I would like to deeply thank France who is contributing to this effort.
France is one of the architects of European Civil Protection. And its biggest contributor.
Madame La Préfète, the European Commission is deeply grateful to the extraordinary contribution of France to the development of European Civil Protection.
Since 2014 France has responded in twenty-seven (27) emergencies around the world such as 2019 floods in Iran, a deadly tropical cyclone IDAI in Mozambique earlier this year or forest fires in Sweden, and tsunami in Indonesia last year.
France holds the record of solidarity and humanity in Europe. I sincerely thank you for this.
Through the EU Saves Lives campaign we want to showcase our everyday work. The challenges we face.
We are inviting you to become part of the positive impact. That the EU brings to the lives of European citizens.
We are bringing our work closer to you through virtual reality. In an interactive and innovative way. Through three hundred sixty (360)-degree videos.
- You will travel to Bangladesh. At a refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar. Home of more than seven hundred (700) thousand Rohingya refugees. This is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world.
- You will "step inside" the camp. And learn more about refugees' life and EU's work there. I visited the camp in October 2017. I must admit that when I watched the virtual reality video I felt like I was back there again.
- In another video you will find yourselves inside the cockpit of a water bomber. While putting out a massive forest fire in Spain.
You will learn more about the tremendous impact that forest fires have on people, properties and the environment. And you will be able to have a closer look at the EU-coordinated response to such disasters.
I remember visiting the European firefighters in Portugal after their deployment during forest fires in Chile a few years ago. Your experience in this video will be similar to theirs in action.
Finally, you will visit an EU-funded education project in the Kakuma camp in Kenya, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. This will give you an insight into the importance of providing education for children caught up in humanitarian crises.
I am happy to be surrounded today by good friends and colleagues. And longstanding supporters of civil protection.
The exhibition will stay here for the next ten (10) days.
Our hope is to reach many more European citizens. In all corners of Europe.
Enjoy this innovative experience!