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Human, social and political assessment

of the recent wildfires in Greece


First published in English in August 12, 2018

by Emmanuel Kosadinos, hospital doctor and unionist

The toll of the deadly wildfires that ravaged the outskirts of the Greek capital
is catastrophic, and the consequences are immeasurable. The means of civil
protection undergo the impact of austerity. Government support measures
are very inadequate. The poorest are in the front line of solidarity actions!

The cost of the disaster that recently stroke Greece


Greece, population: 11 million
Human victims: 93 dead including several children!
Among them: 1 death in intensive care, 7 bodies not found
Causes of death: cremation, asphyxiation, burns, drownings
Injuries stil in hospital: currently 36, including 14 in intensive care
Dwellings destroyed: 1500
Vehicles destroyed: 800
Sociology of the affected areas: 50% main dwellings, 50% secondary
dwellings and businesses, including tourist
Peak of temperature during the fire storm: 1000 degrees Celsius
In a very short time the wildfires have devastated large inhabited areas near Athens

Means deployed: 190 professional firefighters (+ volunteers), 95 vehicles, 7

Canadair. A large part of the resources were not operational because they were
not maintained. Central Civil Protection Service, number of staff: 20 employees
Share of the State budget dedicated to civil protection: 0.03%
Share of the State budget dedicated to military and to NATO: 2.4%

Gross salary of a Greek fireman: 800 euros

Waiting time of the coastguard boats by the survivors, immersed in the sea
water: 5 hours!
1st official release: 7 hours after the disaster
Government crisis meeting: 21 hours after the disaster
Evacuation of disaster areas: according to individual initiatives
Transport of the wounded: with individual means
Compensation by destroyed house: 5000 euros
Postponement of expropriations of households over-indebted: nothing!

Attitude of the SYRIZA government: arrogance, conspiracy theory, lack of self-


criticism, embarrassing insouciance
State of health services during the crisis: disorganization
On the latter subject, you can find on the Médiapart blog the communiqué of
the Panhellenic Federation of employees of Public Hospitals.

The austerity-striken public services were quickly overwhelmed by the disaster

Spontaneous solidarity: massive!


Means: donations of blood, donations of materials of all kinds, physical
involvement, reception of victims

Actors of this solidarity: people with modest means, Syrian refugees, Kurdish
refugees, Roma, self-administered Solidarity Dispensaries, Citizen Collectives,
Red Cross.
Among the actors of solidarity I must mention the Egyptian fishermen of the Aegean
Sea, who have collected many survivors in the waves, while the boats of the port guards
had not yet been present. It is these same fishermen that the Golden Dawn thugs
assaulted 4 years ago.

Attitude of the elites

Association of Greek Industrialists: verbal condolences, zero donations


Orthodox Church: For orthodox bishop Ambrosios it is a just divine punishment
because the people voted for a government of atheists, the SYRIZA party.

Government measures taken after the crisis: announced acceleration of the


demolition of illegal constructions, compensation of 5000 euros per destroyed house
(with bonus depending on the number of members of the household), grant of two
additional months for pensioners affected, 45 days of compensation additional
unemployment for employees whose company was destroyed by fire, 10.000 euros in
compensation for the survivor of the couple of which one member died, a scholarship for
the young of the families affected, exemption from real estate tax for homes destroyed
(but for the year 2018 only), extension of the deadline for the tax return in October,
exemption of electricity bill for homes destroyed for the first half of 2018.

The cumulative cost of these measures is estimated at 10 million euros, 0.01% of the
budget of the Greek state. The funds will be drawn from a "special jackpot" whose
creation bas
been announced by the goverment.

The opposition considers these measures insufficient. The Communist Party of Greece
(KKE) has announced that it will abstain from voting the bills in the Greek Parliament.

Assignment of responsibilities:

Resignation of the Deputy Minister for Civil Protection, dismissal of the Chief of Police
and the Chief of the Fire Department.

Justice has been seized to investigate the situation and possibly assign
responsibilities. However, the SYRIZA government decided on a parallel investigation
and commissioned a German expert company for this purpose.
Greece is today mourning the many victims of the wildfires

Post-scriptum:
This is not a professional journalistic account of the events related to the wildfires but a
personal note, based on elements published in the Greek and non-Greek media. It is
subjectivity influenced by both a sentiment of grief and revolt and by my personal
militant engagement.

Read more:

Testimony on health management of the recent wildfires in Greece

URL source: https://blogs.mediapart.fr/emmanuel-kosadinos/blog/120818/human-


social-and-political-assessment-recent-wildfires-greece