Today, the Border Violence Monitoring Network publishes a statement on the wildfires in the Evros land border region between Greece and Turkey co-signed by 31 civil society organisations. The fires that have been unfolding over the last six days have resulted in the proliferation of damaging narratives that place the blame on people on the move. This has, in turn, led to the mobilisation of local citizens to hunt down transit groups and to take protection of the border into their own hands. In this statement we denounce these practices and call for a realignment with the truth stated by the fire department, that the fires were caused by lightning.
Additionally the statement comments on the tragic fates met by people on the move, who are currently navigating the region in a context of increased risk. So far 18 bodies have been brought into the Alexandroupoli morgue, reportedly belonging to people on the move who were either trapped in or attempting to flee a sheep pen. Alarmphone reports of groups stranded on islets in the Evros river whose fate yet remains to be seen as search and rescue continues to be systematically denied.
The fires in Evros, the deaths, and the attacks on people on the move, were preventable. Warnings were given days before, the conditions analysed as particularly dangerous, and wildfires have spread across the country for consecutive summers in a row. Yet the country’s firefighting services were not well resourced. Read the statement for further info.
With research contributions by Lena Karamanidou.