Forest fires in Montenegro: the Federal Council decides to dispatch an Armed Forces helicopter to support firefighting efforts

Bern, 20.07.2017 - On 20 July 2017, the Federal Council decided to dispatch a Swiss Armed Forces Super Puma helicopter from Switzerland to Montenegro to help fight forest fires. The helicopter is already en route to Tivat, where it will replace a KFOR helicopter which had been redeployed from Pristina to Tivat yesterday to provide initial support.

The Federal Council's decision was made by circular resolution procedure. The Swiss Armed Forces helicopter and its crew set off in the morning towards Tivat in southern Montenegro, a region that has been particularly affected by forest fires. A Swiss Humanitarian Aid rapid response team had already flown to Montenegro the day before. The rapid response team is supporting the firefighting efforts of a helicopter under Swiss command which the Swiss Armed Forces redeployed yesterday to Tivat from the base of the multinational Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Pristina. This helicopter has already carried out 49 flights and dropped 88 tonnes of water during this firefighting operation.

Switzerland has now dispatched a replacement helicopter because KFOR needs this helicopter again for other missions. Overall responsibility for this operation lies with Swiss Humanitarian Aid in close cooperation with the Swiss Armed Forces. A Swiss rapid response team is coordinating efforts with the Montenegrin authorities and providing logistical support for the operation.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport have already worked together successfully to fight forest fires in the past. For example, in December 2010 Switzerland deployed a Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit team and three Super Puma helicopters to Israel to help fight forest fires.

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