Europe sends “almost €4 million” to Portugal to help repair Madeira’s devastating wildfires

Portugal is to receive €3.9 million from Europe’s Solidarity Fund – designed to help countries recover from natural disasters.

With money also being released to help the UK recover from the consequences of 2016’s flooding, and Cyprus from its drought and fires last year, Portugal’s tranche comes after the country estimated “the total direct damage” caused by the fires that devastated over 6000 hectares at €157 million.

Strangely, national press has reported the news as the money coming “to help reconstruct the damage caused by fires that swept our country last year”. But the payment is specifically set out in a European Council draft budget dated March 26 as being a “mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund” for the “Madeira Fires in 2016”.

The fires – started deliberately by a man now serving a three-year jail sentence – caused the deaths of three people, damaged 233 houses (154 irreparably), affected several farms, damaged 24 businesses, five hotels, a school and hospital, as well as basic infrastructure, including electricity power lines supplying 400 consumers.

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