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Three migrants receive Greek citizenship for rescuing people in wildfire

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By Associated Press & Alice Tidey
Three migrants receive Greek citizenship for rescuing people in wildfire
Copyright  MTI/EPA/Vaszilisz Pszomasz

Three migrant fishermen were granted Greek citizenship on Wednesday for "ignoring the dangers" and rescuing "dozens" of people fleeing this summer's deadly wildfires.

Emad El Khaimi, 50 and Mahmoud Ibrahim Musa, 46, both from Egypt as well as Gani Xheka, 35, from Albania received their citizenship from the hands of Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a ceremony in Athens on Wednesday.

The three men assisted people who had jumped into the sea to escape the July 23 wildfire which swept through the Attica Peninsula and the popular resort town of Mati.

At least 91 people were killed by the blaze or during their attempts to flee, with some drowning or suffocating because of the thick smoke.

The decision to grant them citizenship was first announced in the Government Official Gazette on December 21.

"The three foreign nationals, displaying self-sacrifice and ignoring the dangers, joined Greek fishermen and saved dozens of our fellow citizens, including many children whose lives were at risk," the document read.

"Their self-denial and the exceptional contribution ... warrant the application of legal provisions for honorary naturalisation," it added.

At the ceremony on Wednesday, Pavlopoulos praised them for their "solidarity and humanity" and said he hoped their values would inspire others.

"You are now European citizens too, so you can teach all our partners who don't realise the values of Europe, to do what they ought to do," he said.

El Khaimi told the Associated Press agency after the ceremony that "in a situation like that, when you are talking about people's lives, there's no religion, no black people, no white people."

"You just have to help people who are in danger," he added.