French NGO chief and aid workers accused of bribing Turkish police to save lives of refugees

Syrians were helping other refugees to get into a makeshift camp near Lesbos, Greece, in November 2016, where they would be intercepted by smuggling gangs and then be sent back to Turkey. Others were filling out papers of asylum and other migrants awaiting to be sent to Europe. Andreas Karelis

A group of aid workers is in the dock in Greece, accused of bribing Turkish police to save lives, The Guardian reported.

The group is accused of running a smuggling ring to help people coming to Europe through Turkey. The fugitives include three French aid workers and the manager of a charity in Greece, French aid worker Sophie Loran, The Guardian said.

“The people charged are people who try to give a bit of water, food and first aid to the migrants, before they arrive at the so-called ‘hotspots’,” one source told the daily. They are believed to be about half a dozen people.

The NGO “Civic Initiatives” was involved in helping refugees from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos. The group is accused of using ships to smuggle the refugees to the Greek island of Samos. It allegedly changed their vessel after Turkey wouldn’t allow them to enter.

The EU-Turkey deal aims to stem the flow of refugees to Europe by taking people out of Turkey and forcing them to turn back to Turkish shores.

The number of refugees arriving in Greece has fallen significantly, but thousands have been trapped on islands such as Lesbos, while the Red Cross and Amnesty International are concerned about the standard of the camps, with Syrian children in terrible conditions living in rough conditions in tents with no showers.

In one of the recent incidents in which aid workers lost their lives, 23-year-old German Red Cross worker Marc Schmid was killed while working with children.

On Sunday, France will hold an inquiry into migrant and refugee operations in Greece, which is reportedly looking at attempts to bribe Greek police. The Guardian report also said the inquiry will be exploring criminal activity that migrant and refugee rescue groups undertook for nearly a decade.

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