Reports of illegal NGO activity on the island of Lesvos

Reports of illegal NGO activity on the island of Lesvos

A number of shocking revelations surrounding the fire in Moria and the situation at the camp have come to light during an interview with German activist Rebecca Somer prompted by recent events. She alleges that two German nationals working for an NGO assisted the arsonists and that fire-fighters attempting to combat the blaze were violently repelled by asylum seekers. She maintains that very few Syrians remain in Moria, most of the inmates being African and that an Afghan jihadist and Taliban presence has also been signalled to her. Furthermore, she makes a number of alarming accusations regarding involvement of the SeaWatch NGO in people trafficking, drugs running and the illegal supply of passports enabling migrants to get off the island and smuggle drugs to the mainland in their luggage.

On 16 September 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Eva Kaili of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEP Kaili requested information on “have these allegations been investigated in order to ensure that EU-funded NGOs are not facing charges of sabotage and other illegal activities in Moria?” and “what action will the EU take in cooperation with Greece in order to shield European citizens from jihadists entering the EU in the guise of refugees?”

On 26 November, Commissioner Ylva Johansson, responsible for Home Affairs, responded on behalf of the European Commission. Commissioner Johansson stated that “according to the information available to the Commission, the Hellenic Police arrested six persons as suspects for arson that caused the fire in Moria”.

Commissioner Johansson reported that “in September 2020 Greek authorities arrested 33 individuals working for four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) — one of which is SeaWatch — as suspects for the facilitation of migrants smuggling, espionage and participation in a criminal organisation” and added that “the investigations are ongoing”.

She also clarified that “the hotspot approach has ensured that migrants arriving in Greece are properly identified, registered and fingerprinted” and that “health and security checks are performed and the data is checked against relevant security databases”.

Further, Commissioner Johansson highlighted that “the EU supports the Greek law enforcement authorities to address irregular migration” and “European Border and Coast Guard officers participate in the identification and registration of irregular migrants and Europol officers are involved in secondary security checks, further verify the information and focus on suspected cases related to terrorism and organised crime if requested by the national authorities”.

She underlined that “the Commission remains committed to protecting people from terrorism as confirmed in the EU Security Union Strategy (2020-2025)” and “while the primary responsibility in the fight against terrorism lies with the Member States, the Commission facilitates information exchange to increase border security”.

Finally, Commissioner Johansson declared that “on 23 September 2020, the Commission adopted a New Pact on Migration and Asylum, including a proposal for a regulation introducing an obligatory screening of third-country nationals who do not fulfil the entry conditions” and “this proposal aims at increasing the security of the Schengen area”.

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