Refugees praised for aiding recovery from Greek fires

Some migrant camps were evacuated as the fires raged north of Athens

Migrants and refugees are being praised for assisting with emergency efforts during the disastrous heatwave in Greece.

The Greek Refugee Forum collected goods such as water bottles and toilet rolls after thousands of people were forced to flee the fires.

Boxes of donations were piled up at a refugee centre in Athens to offer support for those affected by the fire.

Further supplies were gathered at a multilingual library run by We Need Books, an NGO that helps refugees and migrants.

“Migrant and refugee communities are on the front line in supporting this act of solidarity,” said forum president Jean-Didier Totow.

“Our office is full of love and solidarity,” staff at the refugee forum said. “Together we'll make it.”

Greece is home to nearly 186,000 refugees and asylum seekers, many of them from Afghanistan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some migrant camps were evacuated as the fires raged north of Athens, forcing the closure of a motorway linking the capital to the north of the country.

Thousands more people are displaced in their own country after a nine-day inferno on the island of Evia and hundreds of other fires across Greece.

The fire on Evia split Greece's second-largest island in two, with a flotilla of patrol boats and ferries being used to rescue people from the tip of the island.

It threw local businesses into chaos by disrupting a tourism season that was already heavily affected because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The damage is huge, and the environmental disaster will have economic repercussions for decades," said Yiannis Kontzias, mayor of the Evia town of Istiaia.

Hundreds of firefighters, including crews from Britain and the Czech Republic, were tackling another blaze west of Athens on Wednesday.

Turkey and Algeria have also been hit by fires in recent weeks that have killed dozens of people.

Temperatures on the Italian island of Sicily reached 48.8°C, the local weather service said, which would top the all-time record in Europe.

Greek officials are blaming climate change, which experts say increases the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events.

Climate change was linked to the recent flooding in Germany, which similarly led to migrants and refugees helping with clean-up efforts.

Syrian volunteers said the devastation reminded them of what they had fled in their homeland as they helped to clean and renovate homes.

Updated: August 12th 2021, 1:32 PM