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NGO rebuts Athens’ charge of aiding people smugglers

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A Norwegian NGO, accused on Tuesday (8 December) by the Greek authorities of serving to migrant smugglers, has angrily denied the allegations.

The NGO was featured in a presentation to reporters by Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi.

“We’re astonished at this unprovoked and intentionally deceptive assault on our organisation,” mentioned Tommy Olsen of the Aegean Boat Report, in an e-mail later the identical day.

Mitarachi introduced video testimonies by African migrants the place they are saying they had been instructed by folks smugglers to make use of Aegean Boat Report, as soon as they landed on Greek shores, to contact the UN refugee company.

Mitarachi claimed the service was thus offering tangible assist for these making an attempt to cross into Europe.

“A small quantity [NGOs] are contributing to the unlawful migratory flows and subsequently the issue and the human prices,” he mentioned.

In a single video, a younger, unnamed African male, says they had been advised by smugglers to contact Aegean Boat Report when touchdown on the Greek shores.

“As quickly as you attain Greece it’s best to {photograph} one another and ship the photographs to the Fb web page or the WhatsApp of the Aegean Boat Report NGO,” he says within the video testimony.

Mitarachi mentioned he will probably be sharing the testimonies with the European Fee.

However Olsen disputed the account, noting that Aegean Boat Report strongly opposes folks smuggling between Turkey and Greece.

“We should request the minister stop his baseless allegations,” he mentioned.

“If he needs to allege we now have acted illegally or improperly he should produce one thing greater than a small variety of refugees saying that smugglers in Turkey know the title ‘Aegean Boat Report’ and inform them in the event that they try and contact us they are going to be given dry clothes and a bottle of water,” mentioned Olsen.

Olsen described Aegean Boat Report as a public service which locates males, ladies and youngsters who arrive on the Greek islands. He in flip accused the Greek authorities itself of failing to offer them with even primary companies.

“We don’t ship assist to these folks, although the minister ought to be happy that some organisations do that, as a result of with out their work, the failures of his personal ministry would have triggered a whole bunch extra deaths than have taken place to this point,” he mentioned.

Aegean Boat Report just isn’t the one NGO on the Greek authorities’s radar, nonetheless.

Final month, German journal Der Spiegel reported over 30 organisations and aid workers had been being investigated by the Greek police.

Amongst these included are Mare Liberum, Sea Watch, FFM e.V., Josoor and Alarm Telephone/Watch the Med. Many are German, with some reportedly having had their telephones wiretapped.

The Greek allegations in opposition to them vary from serving to smugglers, to stealing state secrets and techniques – which may lead to prolonged jail sentences if charged and convicted.

Nonetheless, the episode seems to be a part of a broader authorities effort to manage NGOs engaged on migration in Greece.

A latest Greek ministerial determination, for example, features a confidentiality clause stopping assist staff, together with volunteers, from talking about their work at Greek migrant camps to the broader public.

“I feel this formulation undoubtedly expands the scope far past what we might contemplate knowledge that ought to be protected,” mentioned Minos Mouzourakis, a authorized officer at Refugee Help Aegean.

That call, drafted by ministerial authorities, entered into drive on 30 November with out having to undergo the Greek parliament.

Mouzourakis says the choice comes amid a collection of guidelines aimed toward exerting extensive control over NGOs.

Requested to remark, Mitarachi denied the existence of any confidentiality clauses.

“We would not have any confidentiality clauses concerning the NGOs. We very a lot welcome transparency,” he advised this web site.

“The one factor we’re asking NGOs is that they register with us and likewise once they have folks within the area,” he mentioned.



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