Greece/Central Europe – Faced with a large number of forest fires since the end of July, Greece – like Turkey and Albania – has appealed for European assistance. In solidarity with the Greeks, Polish, Czech and Slovak firefighters are already on the spot to fight the flames, while their Hungarian colleagues are ready to set off to join them.
22 countries have responded to Greece’s request for aid
According to figures available as of August 8 and confirmed by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Twitter, by that date Poland had already sent 143 firefighters and 46 vehicles, Romania 108 firefighters and 21 vehicles, Ukraine 100 firefighters, Slovakia 75 firefighters and 30 vehicles, Serbia 34 firefighters, 14 vehicles and 3 helicopters, the Czech Republic 34 firefighters and 13 vehicles, Moldova 25 firefighters and 4 vehicles, and Croatia one aircraft. The head of the Greek government expressed his “heartfelt gratitude to all the countries that have sent assistance and resources to help fight the wildfires”.
Slovaks and Poles engaged on the island of Euboea
According to Slovak Interior Minister Roman Mikulec, quoted by Újszó, the Slovak fire brigade contingent, which left on Sunday 8 August and went to the large island of Euboea (in the western Aegean Sea, 200 km east of Athens), where they have remained since Tuesday 10 August, is the largest such contingent the country has ever sent abroad.
“I am glad that Slovakia has reacted so quickly. This sends a strong political signal that Greece is an important partner for us in the EU and an important NATO ally”,
said Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok.
Their Polish colleagues, mainly from Wielkopolska and Lower Silesia, were also directed to Euboea, where the situation was most critical at the moment, as more than 35,000 hectares of forest have burnt on that island alone.
Czechs in the centre of the Peloponnese
The contingent of Czech firefighters, who came from southern Moravia, was engaged on the morning of 9 August near the town of Megalopoli, in the centre of the Peloponnese (southern Greece), 200 km south-west of Athens. A team of five Czech firemen and a helicopter were also sent to Albania.
Hungarian contingent ready to leave at any time
As for Hungary, Lt. Col. Daniel Mukics of the National Disaster Management Directorate (Országos Katasztrófavédelmi Főigazgatóság, OKF) reported that
“In the framework of bilateral assistance, [Hungary] has mobilized a contingent of 104 firefighters […], consisting of firefighters from several counties, two command vehicles, five fire brigade cars, two water trucks, five forest fire rapid response vehicles, one bus, two vans and three trucks.”
This contingent is ready to leave for Greece at any time.