Dutch convoy sets off for Greece, hoping to pick up migrants
A fleet of cars and a bus has set off from the Netherlands in a continent-crossing convoy that aims to raise awareness of the plight of migrants languishing in overcrowded Greek island camps and maybe even bring some of them back to the Netherlands.
The Dutch group “Let’s Bring Them Here” wants to pick up 150 migrants and drive them to the Netherlands, the Associated Press reported on Dec. 21.
Organizers concede their chances of success are slim. They won’t bring back any migrants unless Greek authorities let them.
Rikko Voorberg, who helped organize the convoy, said on Dec. 21: “It’s Christmas, so let’s believe in miracles.”
According to Greek government figures, there are more than 14,500 migrants on islands in the Eastern Aegean Sea, where official camps, and other accommodation have room for under 9,000.
The Dutch group’s move came three days after Greek authorities have been accused of returning asylum seekers with fast-track procedures and using violence, according to a report issued by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The HRW also released footage and photos of men with scars on their backs, as it accuses Greek police of inflicting beatings on migrants entering the country from Turkey.
The US-based group claimed the injuries depicted in the footage are shot in Edirne in Turkey’s northwest in August and were sustained during attacks by Greek police engaged in alleged “pushbacks” of people in the northeastern Evros region.
According to reports, the HRW interviewed 26 asylum seekers and migrants from various countries. The interviewees reported incidents in Evros and hostile or violent behavior by Greek police and unidentified groups wearing masks and unmarked uniforms.