By: V4 Agency
A Norwegian NGO, which claims that people reaching the Greek islands on boats are not “illegal immigrants”, communicates with them on WhatsApp and Facebook, The NGO called Aegean Boat Report asks migrants arriving in boats to send photos, which it then publishes on its Facebook page.
Greece is facing a relentless migratory pressure with many irregular migrants reaching the shores of Greek islands in boats.
Many Somali migrants reach the country with the assistance of human trafficking networks, Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis said yesterday.
“I would like to draw attention to the evidence that we have, showing that these trips are encouraged by human smugglers and are sometimes supported by non-governmental organisations operating in the area,” the minister said.
He added that there is reliable information that human smugglers organise assembly points for migrants arriving from Somalia according to their specific needs. Between 2 to 3 thousand migrants are staying in wait in Turkey’s western regions, Mr Mitarakis noted.
According to the minister, there is evidence that Somali nationals obtain health or student visas in Turkey.
“Unlike other nationals, Somalis can enter Turkey without restrictions and then they move on to Greece with the help of human smugglers,” Mitarakis said, adding that Greece will not be a gateway to Europe for illegal human trafficking networks.
Videos with the logo of the Greek Migration and Asylum Ministry have also been posted on the internet. On these videos, Somalis, allegedly migrants, give advice on which NGOs to contact when they reach Europe.
One migrant said that when they reach Greece, they need to communicate with an NGO called Aegean Boat Report using WhatsApp or Facebook. He added that as soon as they enter the European country, they need to send photos of themselves to the NGO. The migrant said the NGO would then communicate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who would help provide everything the immigrants needed.
Another migrant also talked about sending photos to the organisation, saying he found himself on the Aegean Boat Report website.
A third migrant claimed that a Turkish smuggler had told them that the Aegean Boat Report would help them if they reached Greece.
Aegean Boat Report is a Norwegian NGO founded in October 2018. Founder Tommy Olsen volunteered on the island of Lesbos in Greece as early as 2015-16. When Olsen returned to his home city of Tromso, he devoted his time to gather all the information he felt he hadn’t received. Equipped with that, he could better inform volunteers and organisations in the Greek islands.
The migrants’ claims are also supported by the organisation’s Facebook page, which is stacked with photos of immigrants arriving by boat.
The organisation also publishes presumably accurate statistics on its social media page. The latest, which focuses on the period between 30 November and 6 December reveals that 154 migrants made landfall on the Aegean islands that week, most (127) of them on Lesbos.
Aegean Boat Report described the words of the Greek minister as an attack. In their statement they denied cooperation with any people smuggling network. In their view, none of the people arriving on the Greek islands are ‘illegal immigrants’, but asylum seekers exercising their fundamental human rights.
The organisation also posted a screen video on how they communicate with the migrants through WhatsApp.
The video reveals that they are indeed asking for photos from migrants, and they also provide maps to show them where to go. The migrant they are communicating with in the clip also says that they “fear the police.”