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reliefweb - 28 days ago

Greece: Greece: Wildfires Emergency Plan of Action Operations Final Report (MDRGR003)

Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Greece
A. SITUATION ANALYSIS Description of the disaster On 23 July 2018, wildfires broke out in forests and villages across the Attica Region of southern Greece, primarily in areas surrounding Athens. Fires also broke out in the north of the country, as well as on some islands including Crete, however these fires were further from residential areas with no casualties reported. Due to strong winds and difficulty in accessing the affected areas, extinguishing the fires proved extremely difficult, and were described by Greece’s General Secretary of Civil Protection as a worst-case scenario due to the high-density of forests, strong winds, and high ambient temperatures. A state of emergency was declared, and assistance from the EU was requested. 100 people were confirmed dead and more than 600 injured. 700 people were rescued by the coast guard and the navy after fleeing to beaches to escape the flames. Residents in the coastal region in western Attica were requested to abandon their homes, and hundreds of people were evacuated. Almost 94 percent of the cities in Rafina and Marathonas were affected by recent wildfires and it is estimated that more than 4,000 people were affected in total, with about 3,200 hectares burned, including forests, residential areas, playgrounds, and significant social infrastructure. Around 3,236 homes were damaged in the fires, with about one third of them (908 categorized as “red”) assessed as irreparable by the Ministry of Infrastructure. In addition, electricity and water networks also suffered severe damage and were significantly disrupted for a period of about two months during of which intensive repair works of the Municipality workers managed to gradually restore them. Summary of response Overview of Host National Society HRC has been responding to needs of the affected people since the onset of the disaster. The National Society’s assistance to people affected by the fires has been provided mainly through the HRC headquarters (there being no active branch in the affected areas), including Nursing (Primary Healthcare, home visits, psychological first aid); the Samaritans (first aid, search rescue and relief distribution); Social Welfare (PSS, psychological first aid, and relief distributions); and Tracing Services (Restoring Family Links). In 2018, the HRC started to build a disaster response mechanism to ensure that the National Society is better prepared to face the different possible disasters in Greece through improved coordination during response operations. Setting up and training of the three response teams were completed in July 2018: a National Disaster Response Team (response coordination body that can be deployed to the field as a whole or in a modular manner, based on the existing capacity and needs at the affected area), an Emergency Health Unit (team consisting of experienced HRC nurses, doctors and HRC volunteers that can deliver primary health care during and after emergencies) as well as an Emergency Psychosocial Support Unit (roster of experienced Psychosocial Support and Psychological First Aid HRC practitioners that can be deployed to support the affected persons). The fires response was the first time for the Hellenic Red Cross to utilise and successfully test their recently enhanced Disaster Response Mechanism. In October 2018, due to the non-completion of agreed plan of action to address long-standing concerns in the Hellenic RC, the IFRC’s governing board voted to suspend HRC’s membership of the Federation. This suspension came into force from 1 January 2019 and implies that IFRC and Partner National Society cannot support to HRC programmes, both financial and technical. It has to be noted that HRC has made significant progress thus far in the implementation of the plan of action agreed with IFRC. New Statutes were developed by HRC board6 which were revised and endorsed by the ICRC-IFRC Joint Statutes Commission and approved by the HRC General Assembly held on 2 December 2018. Immediately after the ratification of the new HRC Statutes by the Greek courts, Hellenic RC launched a membership campaign to expand the social base of the organisation. An electoral General Assembly, the first one to be organised according to the new statutes, is now planned for 31 March 2019. All multilaterally funded activities relating to the wildfires response, i.e. those supported through the IFRC portion of the appeal, were revised to be completed prior to the suspension taking effect on 1 January 2019. Due to this reason, a revision was published in November 2018, reflecting the early end of IFRC-funded activities. Following the completion of the IFRC-supported activities, HRC is continuing to deliver the remaining planned fire appeal action, funded through donations made directly to the HRC, until the scheduled conclusion at the end of June 2019. Despite the presence of long-standing internal governance issues, the HRC’s operational capacity remains strong with successful large-scale implementation across both migration and wildfire responses. HRC staff and volunteers remain fully committed to continue addressing the needs of affected individuals and communities, with implementation of fire response activities ongoing and expected to achieve its targets, unhindered by the early completion of IFRC appeal activities.


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