Meanwhile, five NGO refugee rescue ships continued to be held in Italy
AN NGO that supports refugees in Turkey is appealing for financial help after a donor withdrew a promise of funding following unconfirmed reports that the Greek authorities are investigating its activities.
Austrian NGO Josoor said today that it had previously received a written offer of urgently needed funds to carry out its humanitarian work in Turkey from an organisation it preferred not to name.
However, the organisation rescinded the offer this week and told Josoor that while it was “aware of the situation around NGO criminalisation in Greece and elsewhere … we are unable to offer you a grant.”
Greek media has reported that the authorities are investigating 33 human rights activists for an assortment of crimes linked to human trafficking. But so far, no official communication has reached any of the accused.
Josoor said “the goal of these criminalisation campaigns is to create a hostile environment for both people on the move and people working in solidarity with them.
“To be refused funding on the grounds of these false allegations that have not even been brought to court [further] accelerates the shrinking of space for civil society to operate in.
“We are immensely disappointed in the lack of solidarity and support shown to us by this, and other, organisations.”
Meanwhile, in a letter dated June 1 and leaked to civil liberties organisation Statewatch, the interior ministries of Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland call on the European Commission to ensure steps are taken to stop people using Greek travel documents issued to refugees from claiming asylum in their countries.
Elsewhere, five NGO refugee rescue ships – the Alan Kurdi, Open Arms, Sea-Watch 3, Sea-Watch 4 and the Sea Eye 4 – are currently barred from leaving ports in Italy after saving hundreds of lives in the central Mediterranean.
“[Italy] acts against international maritime law, while buying time and punishing us financially,” Oscar Camps, founder of Spanish rescue organisation Open Arms, said yesterday.
“What they do not know is that, behind us, there are millions of people who will continue to support us.”
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), whose vessel the Geo Barents is currently the only dedicated refugee rescue ship operating off the coast of Libya, said yesterday that it “stands in solidarity with Sea-Eye 4 and the civil fleet filling the deadly gap created by European states.
“This pattern of administrative harassment must stop before more die at sea,” MSF added.
According to the latest International Organisation for Migration estimates, 10,711 people have been intercepted and returned to Libya by the country’s EU-supported coastguard this year.
The United Nations refugee agency once again reminded its followers on social media today why Libya should not be considered a safe place to return anyone.
“Unconscionable sexual violence against migrant women and girls in Tripoli’s Shara’ al-Zawiya detention centre — suicide attempts out of desperation and starvation. We urge their immediate release and protection.
“Libya is not a safe port of return for migrants.”
See josoor.net for information on how to donate to the charity.
Top image shows a Greek border guard at the newly built wall along the Evros River [Pic: Associated Press]