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Dutch pro-immigration group to fetch migrants from Greece

A Dutch group has decided to travel to Greece to pick up asylum seekers with an old city bus and fifty cars and then take them back to the Netherlands.

Published: December 25, 2018, 8:05 am

    But according to State Secretary for Justice and Security, Mark Harbers, the foundation We Gaan Ze Halen, is guilty of human trafficking. Harbers said that the asylum seekers will be returned straight away.

    Harbers warned that he will immediately send the migrants picked up by the We Gaan Ze Halen foundation back to Greece.

    We Gaan Ze Halen translated from Dutch means: “We will bring them back”. The action group wants to collect 150 migrants stranded in Athens, Nu.nl reported.

    The group has made the 3 000 km journey in cars and a bus which broke down on the way. They left from Utrecht.

    Their aim is to hand Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras a letter on Monday demanding legal travel documents for the migrants.

    The group says the situation on the Greek islands is a “humanitarian disaster” with children in particular at risk of physical and sexual violence. There are now over 16 000 migrants on the islands.

    “We must put an end to the enormous suffering of these people. European countries can no longer point to each other for a solution: something has to be done now. We call on the Dutch government to take the lead in Europe and, in imitation of Portugal, to bring 1 000 people from the Greek islands here.

    “For this we have created a petition together with Amnesty International The Netherlands and others,” the group said on its website. They claim that health care leaves much to be desired and there is little to eat.

    But Harbers has argued that it is illegal to transport people without residency status. Apart from the many logistical problems, the activists also plan to get a group of migrants to cross not only the Dutch border, but various national borders.

    Collecting the asylum seekers from Greece with an old city bus and fifty cars, has proven difficult however, since the bus broke down.

    The old bus, which started the trip from the Netherlands to Greece last Friday, only made it halfway through Germany when it ran into engine trouble. The group says that a new one has been arranged, but they have not managed to pick up their passengers.

    They arrived with an empty bus at the parliament in Athens, where the group plans to demonstrate. “As an invitation, to take the hundred and fifty refugees to the Netherlands”, explained participant Jan van der Giesen from Hardenberg.

    At the parliament, a Greek MP was handed a suitcase full of personal requests and messages, but their petition only collected 45 000 signatures despite huge national coverage in The Netherlands.

    “We have also submitted the request to take the refugees into the Netherlands, but we have not yet received any response”, according to Van der Giesen.

    When the bus broke down, according to campaigner Levi van der Beek (26) it potentially meant that fewer “refugees” would be taken back to the Netherlands. A new plan was then devised said Levi: “If we get permission from the Greek government to take the refugees along, we are going to be crowdfunding flights.”

    But little has been heard from the campaign to crowdfund flight tickets for the migrants, suggesting that very few people are interested in giving money for their cause.

    Harbers said last week that the asylum seekers will be turned back at the Dutch border.

    It is not certain whether the Greek government wants to let the migrants leave the country at all. “We now have to wait, we leave Boxing Day, anyway, with or without refugees,” concluded the activist from Hardenberg.

    They left The Netherlands on December 21. “Because we can not wait for the authorities to respond to the signatures and something has to be done now, we are going to drive to Greece with about 50 cars on the 21st December.

    “This way we express how serious this is. This cannot wait, we are already in our cars and driving – let’s get this done,” the group announced before leaving.

    Activist and initiator Rikko Voorberg handed over athe letter for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with which the group hopes to get permission to take the migrants along.

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