Greece’s migration minister on Tuesday pointed the finger at unnamed nongovernmental organisations for facilitating the illegal crossing of dozens of undocumented Somali migrants from Turkey into Greece.
Speaking to foreign correspondents in Athens, Notis Mitarakis said that the ministry has “witness testimony and confirmed information” that NGOs were helping Somali asylum seekers travel to Turkey and from there helped arrange their crossing to Greece via migrant smuggling networks.
“NGOs pat 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,” Mitarakis said, without providing additional details.
“These crossing must be prevented by any legal means. We do not want our country to become a gateway to Europe,” he said.
Since November 1, 142 of the 214 migrant arrivals in Lesbos have been from Somalia, according to news24/7.gr.
The migration minister placed blame on the Turkish coast guard for the death of two women off the coast of Lesvos last week.
Mitarakis says the migrants are coming to Greece with “unsuitable boats and people, without permission and with complete ignorance of the rules of the sea”.