Athens, Greece – The invention of 18 our bodies within the Greek wildfires – regarded as asylum seekers – has prompted new dialogue across the plight of these on the transfer within the nation.

Greek authorities discovered the stays of 18 individuals within the nationwide forest of Dadia on Tuesday, within the northeastern Greek area of Evros the place the blaze remains to be raging.

The group, reportedly made up of two kids and 16 adults, was seemingly attempting to flee from the flames, in accordance with the native coroner Pavlos Pavlidis, who stated the youngsters have been between 10 and 15 years previous.

It was individually reported that the physique of a person was discovered on Monday additionally presumed to be an asylum seeker.

Locals have needed to abandon properties and livelihoods to flee the fires as villages and even the primary hospital in Alexandroupoli, the area’s capital, have been evacuated.

Greece wildfires
Volunteers attempt to extinguish a fireplace burning a home, as a wildfire burns in Menidi, close to Athens [Elias Marcou/Reuters]

The Evros area shares a land border with Turkey and lies alongside a well-trodden route for asylum seekers crossing into Europe from Turkey.

The realm is extremely monitored by Greek authorities and there have been ongoing stories of unlawful and brutal pushbacks of asylum seekers, which authorities adamantly deny.

Some individuals who used this route, which consists of swathes of forests, have beforehand described to Al Jazeera how they’ve hidden to keep away from detection.

Alarm Cellphone, an emergency hotline incessantly contacted by individuals on the transfer in misery, instructed Al Jazeera that they had been involved with quite a few teams of individuals within the area in latest days who described being threatened by the flames, however stated have been equally afraid of being pushed again over the border.

Alarm Cellphone stated the realm was primarily a “no-man’s land” for asylum seekers.

The Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum expressed “nice disappointment” on the information of the deaths, however added that “regardless of the fixed and chronic efforts of the Greek authorities to guard the borders and human life, this tragedy confirms, as soon as once more, the hazards of irregular immigration”, and denounced “the murderous exercise of prison traffickers”.

A firefighting helicopter
A helicopter sprays down water as a wildfire burns in Menidi, close to Athens [Elias Marcou/Reuters]

The Civil Safety Ministry additionally expressed condolences, however added “the unlucky foreigners, whereas they have been forbidden to be within the forest … and regardless of a number of 112 messages to Greeks and foreigners within the space, didn’t depart”.

It’s not recognized if the group had working cellphones, understood the language of the messages or knew it was forbidden to be within the forest.

Two Greeks and one Albanian have been arrested on Tuesday after posting a video on-line of a gaggle of individuals presumed to be asylum seekers locked in a trailer.

Within the video, the person accused migrants of getting began the fires however supplied no proof and none has emerged that that is the case.

Conspiracy theories

The Border Violence Monitoring Community (BVMN), a coalition of greater than 14 organisations, in a press release with Lena Karamanidou, a famous researcher on Evros, pointed to far-right galvanisation round conspiracy theories that migrants have been chargeable for the fires.

They stated that figures resembling Kyriakos Velopoulos, a member of parliament and chief of the far-right occasion Hellenic Answer had shared the video of the individuals locked within the trailer.

“But once more, a tragic scenario has been manipulated accountable individuals on the transfer themselves for their very own deaths, and to strengthen hyperlinks between migration and criminality that has led to the proliferation of mobilised right-wing teams within the area,” the BVMN stated, criticising the response of some Greek authorities.

“Greece’s intense concentrate on migration has come at the price of its land and its residents, with tens of tens of millions of euros poured into high-tech Closed Managed Entry Centres and the Automated Border Surveillance Techniques used to ‘stop entry’ of two,170 undocumented individuals between the 14th and seventeenth of August, and arrest 29 alleged human traffickers,” they stated.

“But, there have been few fire-preparedness measures taken for the wildfires that everybody knew have been coming, and which have destroyed Greece’s pure panorama and razed properties and livelihoods to the bottom,” BVMN added.

Eftychia Georgiadi, Worldwide Rescue Committee’s head of programmes in Greece, instructed Al Jazeera it was “devastating that no less than 18 individuals have needlessly misplaced their lives”.

“No one must be compelled to hunt shelter within the forest and left with out ample safety,” Georgiadi stated.

She stated – as soon as confirmed – the deaths “exhibit the lethal penalties of the EU’s failure to agree on a humane, sustainable asylum system”.

“This lack of coordinated motion leaves individuals uncovered to grave risks at each step of their journeys seeking safety in Europe,” Georgiadi stated, including it was very important “the EU and its member states uphold the basic proper to use for asylum, and create extra protected routes in order that fewer individuals are left with no choice however to threat their lives on such harmful journeys”.


Alarm Cellphone instructed Al Jazeera that asylum seekers transferring by means of the area had change into “invisible”, and despatched an inventory of the teams that they had misplaced contact with in latest days in addition to a listing of stories of pushbacks and violence within the space.

“No one implied that foreigners set the fires on Rhodes one month in the past,” they stated, “state mechanisms – not simply Greek – did all the pieces to evacuate vacationers”, and highlighted the distinction between how worldwide media focussed closely on vacationers impacted by the fires on Rhodes earlier this summer season in comparison with the muted response now.

The group instructed Al Jazeera that local weather change added an additional layer of violence to the lives and remedy of these on the transfer.

“The comparability between how foreigners are handled throughout disasters in Greece reveals that the appropriate to life is arbitrarily decided based mostly on racist and colonial socioeconomic requirements.”


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