Four weeks on from Greece’s devastating wildfires which claimed 96 lives, survivors are continuing to recover. Red Cross volunteers were part of the search and rescue effort as soon as the blazes broke out in Attica, injuries dozens and damaging hundreds of homes. But the focus now is on making sure people have longer term support as they begin the difficult recovery process. Nurses are carrying out home visits to survivors who are recovering from injuries like burns and breathing problems. Survivors like Elias Karvonopoulos who was badly burned as he rescued his mum from the flames in Mati.

Rafina, Greece, 7 August 2018. Tzemos Athanasios (80) and his wife Tzemou Anna (72) are visited by Hellenic Red Cross nurses for some medical check-up. Rafina is the village most affected by the recent wildfires, and Hellenic Red Cross is patrolling the area to make sure that residents can cope with the trauma.

“We thought we were safe because the main road would halt the spread of fire. It didn’t,” the 56-year-old said. “The road became a one-way street full of cars. I had to go back for my mum, I couldn’t live with the thought of abandoning her – I had no choice but to leave my car behind and go into the fire.”

Rafina, Greece, 25 July 2018. The first fire started on 23 July in the Gerania mountains in western Attica and within a few hours, had spread to the coastal region of Rafina. The holiday town of Mati in Rafina is where the majority of fatalities were recorded.

Providing specialist psychosocial support is also crucial as people process the trauma they experienced. However, the Hellenic Red Cross’s focus is on helping communities prepare for future fires – making sure people are aware of the risks, how to get ready for emergencies and what to do if the worst happens. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a 2 million Swiss francs emergency appeal to support the Hellenic Red Cross for nine months.