Lebanon Wildfires: Cyprus and Greece Help Combat Forest Fires in the Middle East

Lebanon Wildfires: Cyprus and Greece Help Combat Forest Fires in the Middle East

Lebanon wildfire, which broke out on Monday, is still causing destruction near South Beirut and in Syria. Learn more about the rescue efforts below

Lebanon’s Chouf Region’s tree-covered mountains have been ravaged by dozens of forest fires since Monday. Lebanon’s Army, Civil Defense and Sidon Fire Department have been working together, deploying helicopters and water cannons to put out the fires but strong winds and high temperatures have made the task more difficult. The Lebanese government has requested neighbouring countries to help the firefighters rescue its forests and the residents living close to the affected areas. A volunteer firefighter lost his life during the rescue efforts while several people have been hospitalised and are receiving emergency medical care.

Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri said on Tuesday that they had contacted Europeans “who will send means of help.” Lebanon’s defence minister Elias Bou Saab was in Cyprus on Tuesday for a meeting with his counterpart there, Savvas Angelides.

Cyprus has responded to the call for assistance by sending two aircrafts to Lebanon. The European country’s foreign ministry shared the details via a tweet, “Two fixed-wing #firefighting aircraft of the #Cyprus Department of Forests #now en route to #Lebanon responding to urgent request for assistance in combating raging forest #fires. We stand in #solidarity with friends and neighbours in times of difficulty. #Together we are #stronger.

Greece and UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL have also joined the firefighting and rescue efforts in the country, and have been helping evacuate Lebanese civilians in different areas, whose homes have been engulfed by these fires.

In the past couple of months, international media has been reporting on climate change in relation to the Amazon forest fires in Brazil. The international community has been concerned about safeguarding the “lungs of the world” as Amazon rainforests are considered essential for reducing the destabilising effects of global warming around the world. Sudden changes in temperatures and forest fires, such as the one in Lebanon, are seen as some of the consequences of climate change.

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By Ayesha Hoda
Ayesha Hoda is a senior communications professional and writer, currently based in Dubai, UAE.