NGO accuses Greek Migration Minister of false claims

Aegean Boat Report label Notis Mitarakis as "mischievous"

12 October, 12:49

    (ANSA) - ATHENS, 12 OTT - The Norwegian NGO Aegean Boat Report has attacked the Greece's Minister for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, refuting accusations that the organization has links with people traffickers from Turkey as "entirely untrue".

    In comments during a TV interview, Mitarakis had suggested that the organization was being used by traffickers to bring asylum seekers to Greek shores.

    It is not the first time Mitarakis has aimed accusations at Aegean Boat Report, whose mission is stated as "We monitor and share data about people movement on the Aegean Sea, and advocate to uphold international law and protect human lives", and the NGO has once again responded in kind.

    "We are perturbed and annoyed to once again be the subject of mischievous and entirely untrue claims from the Greek Minister of Migration Notis Mitarakis," said Aegean Boat Report via a media statement..

    The statement went on: "We feel we must state publicly that his comments about Aegean Boat Report, specifically the claim that we 'work with' and 'help' Turkish 'people traffickers' and the claim that we are 'funded by the East' are entirely without merit. They are false. We do not help Turkish traffickers. We have not, do not, and will never work with or assist people traffickers from any part of the world. The absolute best we can say about Mr. Mitarakis' claim is that he certainly does not know it to be true (because it is not). In fact, we believe he knows that it is not, in which case what he said was a lie. We are not 'funded by' the 'East'." "Some of our grant funding has come from within Norway, where we are based. Norway is not 'the East'. It is considerably further west than Greece, which we would hope Mr. Mitarakis knows. We were also given a grant by a donor in Belgium, and another from the UK. If it helps Mr. Mitarakis for us to do so, we are happy to note here that the UK and Belgium are further west than Norway, which is, as we have ascertained, some distance further west than Greece. The rest of our money comes from private donations made through fundraising campaigns. These donations have come from all over Europe, almost all of which is also west of Greece. Both claims Mr. Mitarachis has made about us are false, and it is impossible to believe that he does not know this. Deliberately spreading false information is lying.

    Many of you will have noted by now that we were forced to make similar statements about similar claims made by Mr. Mitarachis almost two years ago. As we pointed out at the time, those claims, too, were entirely false. Absolutely no action has been taken as a result of those claims." The NGO added that Mitarakis comments are a tactic of "deliberate smearing" of the organisation, carried out "because we work to expose Mitarakis' law-breaking which results in deaths in the Eastern Aegean", while they called on the Minister to cease what they describe as "his campaign against us" immediately so that they can continue they work.

    Aegean Boat Report's statement also came after Mitarakis addressed the 73rd Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, stating that "Smuggling networks today, get to decide who enters Europe, Greece is committed to protecting its borders", during his speech.

    Also in his address, Mitarakis focused on what he described as "the extreme practices followed by smugglers both on land and at sea", stressing that the exploitation of human life at the altar of money has the impact of dozens of deaths, as happened recently with the shipwreck tragedies near the Greek islands of Lesvos and Kythira. (ANSA).

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