15 Belgians return from Rhodes following forest fires
The Belgian ministry of Foreign Affairs and various tour operators have "found a solution for about 15 Belgians who can return to Belgium today" from the Greek island of Rhodes. This was reported by the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs on Monday after a new meeting regarding the forest fires on the Greek islands.
Major forest fires and evacuations on Rhodes have since been happening on other islands such as Corfu and Evia. The FPS is closely monitoring the situation in consultation with the Greek authorities and the tour operators concerned.
As early as Sunday, the ministry decided to reinforce its presence in Greece to "provide assistance to Belgians present in the areas affected by the forest fires on the island of Rhodes". A staff member was sent to the island on Sunday and was followed by a colleague on Monday morning. They are working in the crisis centre set up by the Greek authorities at Rhodes airport.
"All the Belgians we have contacted are safe, and consular assistance is being provided to those in need"
"All the Belgians we have contacted are safe, and consular assistance is being provided to those in need," the FPS said on Monday. "In consultation with the various tour operators, solutions have already been found for around 15 Belgians who can return to Belgium today."
As far as Corfu is concerned, there are 60 Belgians living on the island and 91 Belgians registered on the Travellers Online platform. The Belgian embassy in Athens has contacted all Belgians known to be on the island. "Only one Belgian family has so far contacted our embassy directly," the ministry said.
Belgium has also updated its travel advice for Greece as a result of the fires and the heatwave. Travellers are advised to "carefully follow the instructions of the local authorities" and to take into account the possibility of new fires due to the continuing heat. Travellers to Rhodes and Corfu are also advised to contact their tour operator before departure.
© PHOTO SPYROS BAKALIS / AFP