With more than eighty-five dead, hundreds injured, and more than 1,200 homes destroyed following deadly wildfires near Athens, Greece, ADRA is already working to provide support. The fires, thought to be the deadliest on record, broke out on Monday, 23 July 2018, with Mati in east Attica being the worst region affected.
Despina Tologlou was planning a Tuesday evening event supporting refugees in Katerini, 310 miles (500 km) north of Athens when news of the fire came through. As the lead person for ADRA operations in Greece, she transformed the event in the city park into a fund raiser. Local citizens donated bottled water, food and hygiene items, basic drugs and baby supplies, to assist those affected by the fires. So far, 240 boxes of supplies have been provided.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of mourning together with a state of emergency in Attica, saying all emergency services have been mobilised. Help has also come in the form of fire-fighters and equipment from France, Germany, Italy and Poland.
“It is impressive to see how solidarity works within this nation,” states Tihomir Lipohar, Head of Mission for the ADRA refugee response in Greece. “The citizens of Greece have shown great compassion supporting refugees and migrants who flooded through their county in recent years. Now as they pull together as a nation in the light of this tragedy they need our support.”
Working closely with the authorities, ADRA is now in the process of distributing supplies in the affected areas, but more is needed. “Now, it would be great to support this nation in its response to the victims of deadly fires in Mati and other places in south-eastern Greece,” Lipohar states, as volunteers plan to work together with Boy Scouts, the Military, and the local authorities.
Devastation is extensive. Evangelos Bournous, the mayor of Rafina, told reporters that his village "no longer exists." The Greek Infrastructure Ministry announced on Thursday that 49% of all buildings inspected across Mati have been deemed uninhabitable.
“ADRA Europe is working together with the ADRA network to support initiatives in Greece during this emergency,” states João Martins, ADRA Europe director. They are looking at their emergency funding but extra donations are especially welcome at a time like this.
Last year forest fires crept to within just a few metres of the Adventist Youth Campsite at Kalamos, 31 miles (50 km) north east of Athens. [See Forest Fire Danger averted at Camp Kalamos.] The camp was evacuated as a precaution on the Monday following an outbreak of fire some 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from the site, but that was soon extinguished, and summer camps continue. The Adventist site is 27 miles (45 km) away from the devastation in Mati.
President of the Greek Mission, Claudiu Gulyas, reports that no church members appear to have been injured or their property damaged during these most recent fires. The Church, together with ADRA, will now do all it can to help those very many families who have been affected by this tragedy. [tedNEWS]