Switzerland assists Israel put out forest fires

Bern, Press release, 03.12.2010

Switzerland will send three Air Force Cougar helicopters to Israel to help fight the devastating forest fires in the north of the country. In the last few hours, 41 people have died in the worst outbreak of bush and forest fires in the country’s history; more than 17,000 more have had to be evacuated from their homes.

At its meeting on 3 December, the Federal Council decided to support Israel with fighting the fires in the area surrounding the city of Haifa in the north of the country. The Israeli government has appealed for international support because its own fire-fighting capacities are inadequate to extinguish the worst such fires in the country’s history.  

In cooperation with the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, the Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Confederation, within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), will send three Armed Forces helicopters and the necessary unarmed personnel to Israel. The mission is expected to be operational on Sunday, 5 December. Responsibility for the deployment lies with the Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Confederation, while the Air Force is responsible for its management.    

An emergency relief team composed of three members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit and two Armed Forces personnel has been sent to Israel today. They will prepare the deployment of the helicopters and assess the need for further humanitarian support measures.  

Information:
Georg Farago, Media spokesperson FDFA, Tel. 031 323 11 28 / 079 301 70 35
Stefan Hofer, Head of Communications, Armed Forces Command Staff, Tel. 031 323 37 41 / 079 371 58 32


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