European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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The European Union. Together we protect you from disasters.

Poster CP2Natural and man-made disasters, such as forest fires, storms, floods, epidemics, extreme temperatures and marine pollution have impacted  people and the environment during recent years. In 2018, more than 100 people died across Europe in such disasters – large forest fires alone affected 22 EU Member States.

Some disasters stretched the ability of European countries to help each other, especially when several countries faced the same type of disaster simultaneously. When the scale of a disaster overwhelms countries’ ability to respond on their own, the EU coordinates European assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The Mechanism was upgraded in 2019 and now includes an additional layer of protection: rescEU, a European reserve of capacities that ensures a faster and more comprehensive response to emergencies. This new legislation boosts national capacities and supports disaster prevention and preparedness in the participating countries.

The rescEU campaign highlights EU Civil Protection and rescEU, informing  civil protection partners and professionals about the EU’s support when disasters hit.

Poster CP2

What is Civil Protection?

Civil protection is, on one hand, the assistance delivered by local, national and/or European authorities in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and, on the other hand, preventative measures to reduce the impact of future disasters.

This assistance can take different forms such as:

  • Search and rescue operations
  • Forest and urban fire-fighting
  • The deployment of medical personnel
  • Water purification
  • Temporary emergency shelter

Poster CP2First ever activation of rescEU 

On 13 August 2019 a forest fire broke out in the municipality of Dirfys, Evia Island, in Greece. Due to the extent and intensity of the fires, Greece requested assistance through the Civil Protection Mechanism. rescEU assets were mobilised to tackle the fires – 2 Italian firefighting airplanes started operating on 14 August and the Spanish firefighting airplane joined on 15 August.

Thanks to the joint efforts of national and international responders, the fire was brought under control within 3 days.

Eleftherios Manousis, Duty Officer at the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), went to Evia as Liaison Officer.


‘The forest fires on the Greek island of Evia put people and properties of nearby villages, and a protected forest into great danger. On that day our new rescEU reserve was mobilised for the first time. It was truly great to see EU‑cooperation in action at this crucial moment in time!’
- Eleftherios Manousis,
Duty Officer at the ERCC

Find out more about European Civil Protection and how we coordinate the European response to disasters.

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