GR US

Refugee NGO Denies Greek Police Claim of Human Smuggling

Αssociated Press

FILE- Migrants are seen inside the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Panagiotis Balaskas)

ATHENS – Greek police claims the Aegean Boat Report non-governmental organization (NGO) unlawfully helped refugees and migrants reach Greek islands and of spying are not true, officials from the group said.

“Aegean Boat Report is not, has never been and will never be a part of any smuggling ring, anywhere on Earth. We strongly doubt that any such ring exists in the Aegean region in any case, but if it did, we would not be involved,” it said in a statement on its website. “We are not people smugglers.”

The case was filed by police on the island of Lesbos, which is holding some 7,000 refugees and migrants in a temporary tent city detention center. They had gone to the island from Turkey, where they first went fleeing war and strife and economic hardship in their homelands, especially Syria and Afghanistan.

The police report implicates 10 people, four of whom are from Norway, the United States and Britain, and described as “members of an equal number of NGOs.”

They said their mission is to save refugees and migrants amid complaints from human rights groups that Greece's Coast Guard – which denied it – is pushing refugees and migrants back in the sea to their fate.

The investigation focused on Aegean Boat Report, which publishes information and photographs on the movements of migrants trying to reach the Greek islands from Turkey.

Turkey has allowed human smugglers to keep operating in violation of a 2016 swap deal with the European Union but not only as gone unpunished but is being rewarded with 6 billion euros ($7.08 billion) in aid.

That is allegedly supposed to be used to contain some 4.4 million refugees and migrants there but there's word on where the money went or how it will be used, half of it due to come.