Von der Leyen pledges EU support on visit to flood-hit region

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On a visit to stricken eastern Belgium, European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen on Saturday pledged EU support to help rebuild regions hit by this week’s deadly flooding.

“Europe is with you. We share your grief. We will help you to rebuild,” von der Leyen said as she joined Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo in the hard-hit towns of Rochefort and Pepinster.

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (L) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) stand near a fallen tree during their visit the town of Rochefort following heavy rains and floods on July 17, 2021 | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

De Croo also said on Twitter that “the presence of President von der Leyen shows that this solidarity goes far beyond borders.”

The extreme flooding has killed at least 157 people in Belgium and Germany.

Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands have also been affected by the surging water levels.

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen | John Thys /AFP via Getty Images

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič — who accompanied von der Leyen on the visit — said he was “proud” that more than 170 rescuers from France, Italy and Austria were deployed through the European Civil Protection Mechanism and provided emergency assistance to affected people.

Earlier this week, in response to a Belgian request, the EU activated its mechanism to support local flood rescue teams.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Belgian Vice-Premier Minister of Economy Pierre-Yves Dermagne and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen look through a window at a damaged home during their visit the town of Rochefort | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

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