NGOs Allegedly Helping African Migrants Illegally Enter Greece

Refugees and migrants on a rubber boat arrive at the Greek island of Lesbos early on March 20, 2016. Greece will not be able to start sending refugees back to Turkey from March 20, 2016, the government said, as the country struggles to implement a key deal aimed at easing …
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A Greek newspaper has blamed NGOs for a surge of arrivals of African migrants, mainly from Somalia, claiming that between 2,000 and 2,500 migrants are currently in Turkey being helped to enter Greece illegally.

Earlier this month, Greek migration minister Notis Mitarakis had claimed that so-called civil society groups were involved in the illegal migration of Africans and that the charities were working with people-smugglers in Turkey.

“NGOs pay for the cost of travel and the issuance of a visa to Turkey, with flights to Istanbul. Then [the migrants] are transported to the Turkish coast, where migrant smugglers, again with NGO support, help them enter the European Union illegally,” he said.

Greek newspaper Proto Thema claimed on Tuesday that between 2,000 and 2,500 migrants from Somalia and the Congo are in the Turkish cities of Izmir and Dicelli waiting to cross into Greece illegally, allegedly with the help of NGOs and the tolerance of Turkish authorities.

The claims are not the first time NGOs have been accused of helping people-smugglers in the Aegean Sea.

In October, Greek police launched an investigation into four Germany-based migrant NGOs for helping traffickers, including by using espionage against Greek border forces and the European Union border agency Frontex to help migrant boats evade patrols.

Authorities say the NGOs used the charity Alarmphone, an emergency phone for migrants in distress at sea, to coordinate and guide migrant boats away from Greek and Frontex ships.

Undercover Greek agents also found evidence of two NGO workers, one Austrian and the other Norwegian, having direct contact with people-smugglers in Turkey.

Just two years before, Greek police arrested several charity employees over similar accusations and claimed they had formed a criminal network which had been smuggling illegals to Greece since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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