TIRANA (Albania), February 18 (SeeNews) – The European Union and international donors pledged to provide a total of 1.15 billion euro ($1.2 billion) in grants and loans to help Albania recover from a devastating earthquake last year, the European Commission said.
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Albania on November 26, causing 51 fatalities, leaving 17,000 people displaced, and ultimately affecting more than 200,000 people in 11 municipalities.
Out of the 1.15 billion euro pledged at an international donors' conference in Brussels on Monday, the European Union including the Commission, its member states and the European Investment Bank announced 400 million euro for the reconstruction of Albania, the European Commission said in a press release late on Monday, adding that it has pledged 115 million euro from the EU budget. This includes a first 15 million euro grant to reconstruct and rehabilitate key public buildings signed on Monday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Albanian prime minister Edi Rama.
The Commission also said it is proposing to the Council and Parliament an additional 100 million euro in grants from the EU budget this year to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of public and private buildings as well as the recovery of affected businesses.
Earlier this month, the EU delegation said Albania will need almost 1.08 billion euro to recover from the damage and the loss of revenue across all sectors inflicted by the earthquake.
The total effects of the disaster top 980 million euro, the EU delegation said at the time, citing data from a post-disaster needs assessment prepared jointly by Albania's government, the EU, the United Nations and the World Bank.
“Most of the damages are recorded in the housing sector, followed by the productive sector (such as business and tourism, agriculture, and cultural heritage), and the education sector,” the delegation noted.
Albania became a candidate for EU membership in June 2014 and is expecting to open accession talks later this year.
($ = 0.92264 euro)