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Call centre set up to help Greek fire victims August 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.

Their homes destroyed, victims of the Greek wildfires are having to rely on emergency donations. Thousands of residents are returning to what is left of the villages ravaged by the flames, which claimed at least 63 lives.

A special call centre has been set up in Athens for victims who need assistance and for those wanting to make donations. Government compensation is also being distributed. Emergency payments of 3,000 euros are being offered to those who have lost their homes: 10,000 is being given to families who have lost loved ones.

As authorities say many of the fires now look as if they are being brought under control, experts are moving in to assess the damage. Victims complain that they could never rebuild with the money they might receive. “We cannot rebuild anything,” said one woman. “Everything is destroyed. All the olives, the people who are staying here, they don’t have anything. All the olives are destroyed. We have our oil, we have our oranges, and now it’s nothing. Nothing, nothing. Everything is damaged.”

Just weeks ahead of a snap election, Greece’s conservative government has come under increasing attack for the way it dealt with the fires. Critics, including the opposition, accuse the government of incompetence, saying it did too little, too late.

Aid pours in for victims > Donations for fire victims were boosted yesterday by banks as well as state and private benefactors from Greece and abroad.

The Bank of Cyprus pledged 5 million euros and the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation another 5 million euros. Another 500,000 euros was pledged by the Athens Water Company (EYDAP). Spain pledged another two water-dropping aircraft.

Families whose homes have been destroyed are to receive between 250 and 400 euros per month, Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said. The handouts are to continue until their homes are rebuilt.

Farmers will receive between 1,000 and 3,000 euros per hectare of damaged land, Agriculture Minister Evangelos Bassiakos said. Meanwhile, farmers in Thessaloniki offered to send their counterparts in the fire-ravaged Peloponnese three animals each to help them rebuild their livelihoods. “We are ready to send them our animals and anything else they may need,” said Stelios Voyiatzis, president of the Union of Farmers of Eastern Thessaloniki.

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