Syria requests EU support for the first time after earthquake
BRUSSELS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Syria has, for the first time, asked for assistance from the European Union, two days after a devastating earthquake killed more than 11,000 people there and in neighbouring Turkey, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
The EU said it would provide additional emergency support to both countries and emergency humanitarian assistance worth 6.5 million euros ($7 million) in one of the largest ever search and rescue operations through its Civil Protection Mechanism.
"We have received a request from the government of Syria for assistance through the civil protection mechanism," European Commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic said.
Lenarcic told reporters that EU member states were being encouraged to contribute with assistance as requested.
An EU official said the 27-member bloc would need enough safeguards to ensure that the aid provided effectively reached those in need and that the provision of any future EU assistance would not go un-monitored.
A country can request assistance through the EU mechanism when the scale of an emergency or disaster overwhelms its response capabilities.
Once activated, the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre coordinates and finances assistance provided by EU member states and eight additional participating nations.
Lenarcic will visit affected areas in Turkey tomorrow.
($1 = 0.9322 euros)
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