Greece is encountering a natural disaster of wildfires, as reported by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The Mediterranean country is going through its worst heatwaves in decades, and firefighters continue to contain the situation across the nation. Evacuations have taken place in the past few days, according to Mitsotakis. He apologized in a televised address for any weaknesses on the government’s side on containing the wildfires, which have destroyed a lot of homes and forced many people to flee their homes.
The second-largest island of Greece, Evia, has been the most affected by the fires as more than half of the island has burned, as reported by local officials. The fires have been devastating for the people of Greece, who depend on the forests for their living. The fires have also destroyed their products, including olives, resin, figs, and honey.
Environmental experts have warned that southern Europe is highly vulnerable to the effects of climatic change, part of the continent where droughts have been frequent and severe. “It’s obvious that climate changes are affecting the entire planet,” Mitsotakis stated. “That is the explanation, but not an excuse or an alibi. We may have everything we could, but in many cases, this did not appear to be enough in the unequal fight with nature,” he added.
A conclusion from a state of the science report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that it is “unequivocal” that people have led to the climate crisis and also confirmed that “widespread and rapid changes” have already happened, several of them being beyond repair.
Scientists are more confident than ever that there is a connection between the climate crisis and severe weather: worldwide, droughts that may have happened only once in every ten years or so now occur 70% more often, as per the report. And in the middle of the unyielding drought and extreme heat, wildfire periods are now prolonged and cause more destructive fires.
As Europe battles wildfires across the Mediterranean, North Africa is also encountering the threat. More than 25 Algerian People’s National Army officials have died while battling wildfires east of the Algiers, Algerian capital, since Monday, according to Algeria’s president Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The nation has so far reported 103 fires in 17 provinces. The army members died after saving more than 100 people from the fires of Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou.
Protests against the government’s handling of the disaster
Protesters marched outside the Greek Parliament in Athens on Monday over the government’s response to the wildfires. “We are demonstrating against the authorities that have watched the nation burn, as they have put profits ahead of the people,” protestor Nikos Loutos told Reuters. “We are demonstrating because they allocate huge amounts of funds for warplanes and police and not for the fire brigade.”
Anna Mitilineou, another demonstrator, stated, “The public is angry because there is no special forest fire brigade in the country. The wildfire brigade battles fires in the forests, not the common firefighters, and they destroyed them; that is why we are demonstrating.” Mitsotakis said any delays in the country’s firefighting response would be addressed, the officials responsible will be held accountable, and those whose property was destroyed will be recompensed.
Foreign teams join the battle.
Firefighters from some European nations are helping Greek teams in the battle to contain the wildfires on the island of Evia. Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine deployed firefighters to the region. Many people have been evacuated from Greece’s villages, getting aid from several EU countries, Switzerland, Israel, and the UK. The EU said it was organizing “one of the biggest-ever common firefighting operations in Europe” to assist Greece and other affected nations. Over 850 firefighters are being helped by at least 12 water-bombing helicopters.