Greece busts migrant trafficking ring, dozens of aid workers accused

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Greek police have accused 35 people from several foreign non-governmental aid organisations of illegally helping refugees and migrants to enter from Turkey.

Those accused allegedly provided information to people-smugglers, in at least 32 instances, on the Greek coastguard’s position and possible locations to disembark on the Aegean island of Lesvos.

The group faces criminal charges related to organised crime and espionage, police said on Monday. It was not clear from the statement whether any arrests were made.

Two foreign nationals – identified by national broadcaster ERT as an Afghan and an Iranian – were also part of the alleged operation, the police said.

No information was given on the aid groups in question or the identities of the suspects.

In a statement, Migration Minister, Notis Mitarachi, said authorities were cooperating with many NGOs but would not tolerate NGOs “with illegal activity.”

A Greek police source told Reuters that a “preliminary” investigation was still under way.

Refugees relocated from Lesvos:

Meanwhile, Greek authorities on Monday began transferring hundreds of refugees from Lesvos to reduce chronic overcrowding that has caused hardship and fanned tensions with locals.

More than 700 people were to sail to the Greek mainland on board a ferry late on Monday, organisers said, three weeks after a sprawling camp on the island burned down.

READ MORE: Moria ‘completely destroyed’ as fire tears through migrant camp.

Another group will leave on Thursday, state agency ANA said.

Migrants – most of them wearing face masks – gather outside the temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe as they wait to depart from Lesbos

Some 2,500 refugees and asylum seekers are to be relocated overall, following coronavirus tests, according to the migration ministry.

More than 12,000 asylum seekers were left homeless on September 8 after a fire ravaged the Moria camp on Lesvos.

A makeshift tent facility was hurriedly erected to house some 9,500 people. The government is now in talks to build a smaller permanent camp on the island.

Six Afghan youths are on trial for arson in connection to the fire. They deny the charges.

READ MORE: Greece to build permanent migrant centre on Lesvos to replace Moria.

Source: Al Jazeera.

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