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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Statement of the Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos following his meeting with the Mayor of Rafina – Pikermi, Evangelos Bournous

“I would like to express special thanks to the Mayor of Rafina – Pikermi for our meeting today at the Ministry of National Defence, in the presence of the Deputy Chief HNDGS, the Chief HAGS, the Engineer Commander and the MP in the region, Konstantinos Katsikis, on the assessment of the situation and the decision-making about certain measures for relief provided to residents affected by this tragedy.

The Armed Forces have already provided teams of personnel, performing joint patrols in the area with approximately 15 vehicles and 250 soldiers, in order to ensure together with the police – and under the responsibility of the police – that the affected areas are safe.

Together with the Mayor, we decided on proceeding with the establishment of an Armed Forces operations centre in the area, under the direction of the Army, which will have the possibility, first of all, to provide food and meals required for the personnel of the Armed Forces, the Police, the Fire Department and NGO volunteers working in the area. This will be settled at the pedestrian zone in Argyra Akti.

50 engineers have been made available alongside with joint echelons of the Ministry of Infrastructure and we discussed with the Mayor about the possibility of the Engineer Corps and the Studies and Construction Unit (MOMKA), in concert with the Ministries of Environment and Infrastructure, to create a flood-resistant reinforcement, pursuant to the results of studies and a programme agreement to be concluded, so that we would be able to assist with the remedy of the situation after August as well; that is to say, during the period that the rains start up again, so that we would be prepared.

The Engineer Corps is also at the disposal of the Municipality for the creation of firebreaks and of course, for the rehabilitation of the affected area.

The Armed Forces, being at the disposal of the Municipality, undertake best efforts to create a day nursery and to restore the sports center in Neos Voutzas, which has been burned down. At the same time, all necessary materials, such as paints, drugs etc. will be made available for residents by the military plants.

As for Armed Forces officers and conscripts, we decided first of all on granting immediately a 10-day leave to all conscripts and career officers that are in any way whatsoever involved in the area.

Furthermore, we provide the opportunity on request for career officers, but also conscripts, and their relatives or the conscripts themselves are kindly requested to contact either the conscription offices or the operations centre established in Rafina, to be immediately reassigned from Evros and the islands and other Greek regions to the affected area, in order to be able to assist their families. At the same time, we provide the opportunity of temporary deferment of conscription to young persons liable to perform their military service within the following months.

It should be noted that all capabilities of the Armed Forces, such as the provision of electrical generator sets, desalters, accommodation in the Army Summer Resort or other military areas are at the Municipality’s disposal.

This is a great tragedy. The Armed Forces are on the citizens’ side from the very first moment, with the contribution of all three arms; the Hellenic Navy, by saving more than 120 citizens, who were recovered from the sea; the Air Force with the resources that has at its disposal and the Army, through the Special Forces, that has been present in the affected area with 19 boats.

Mister Mayor, we are at your disposal for any further assistance the Armed Forces could provide in this great tragedy that we are suffering”.

The Mayor of Rafina – Pikermi, Evangelos Bournous, made the following statement:

“Mister Minister, I would like to express my gratitude both to you and through you, to the entire staff and personnel of the Ministry of National Defence, not only for your prompt response and assistance from the very first moment provided to the affected residents in the area and your assistance with the restoration of infrastructure, but also for your enormous contribution the night before yesterday, when approximately 800 persons that were trapped in the sea were saved and transferred safely in the port of Rafina.

Access by road was impossible. Without your contribution, as well as that of the Port Authorities and the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, hundreds of people could have lost their life. Your assistance with the restoration of infrastructure in the area, and we share the common objective of immediately restoring them within the following days, will give hope to these people that the cohesion of the urban fabric will be restored, so that these beautiful areas would start functioning again.

The Municipality of Rafina – Pikermi and its services are currently completing the operation of infrastructure. We wish that, with your assistance that you offer freely, we will be able to overcome all problems within the following days as well. Our special thanks to you”.