Thursday, June 16, 2016

What is the actual role of the NGOs in Greece's Refugee Crisis?

What is the role of the NGOs?
Source: Rizospastis / Translation: In Defense of Communism.

In Rizospastis' travelogue in refugee camps around the country, which started on May 29, there are shocking information about the entrapment, the miserable living conditions, the wounds that the war has left to thousands of people. This journalistic travelogue will continue in the following days, in an effort to highlight all the aspects of the refugee-immigration question. 

One aspect, for example, is what is happening with the so-called "Non-Governmental Organisations" (NGOs), which literally have the total control inside the refugee camps, operating as "state within the state". The government has left in their hands the infrastructures (which host refugees), while- along with the EU- provides to these NGOs financial aid of many million euros. Various organisations have taken control of all services. From the feeding sector to the entertainment of the refugee children. From Ellinikon to Ritsona, in Larisa and in Central Macedonia. 

It would be useful to remind what the KKE Europarliament team was mentioning in a question to the European Commission: "their (NGOs) activity extends to the reception of refugees and immigrants [...] proving that the EU and it's immigration policy rejects the construction of reception and hospitality infrastructure...". Most of these NGOs collaborate with large business groups and this isn't limited only to their refugee-related activities but is spread in other sectors too. It is true that we met refugees and immigrants who are afraid to talk about their problems, not because they have no problems but because some people tell them not to talk...

Let's see some specific info:

- The NGO 'Arsis' (Greek: Άρσις), which has been appeared in Ellinikon refugee camp, has among it's partners and financiers the institutes of Bodosakis, Latsis and Stavros Niarchos*. 

(Translator's Note: These institutes belong to some of the economically most powerful Greek families, including industrialists and shipping companies' owners).

The DRC (Danish Refugee Council) stresses out in it's website that DRC's "activities are funded by money concentrated by the Denmark's public and with a subsidy plan from the Danish government and other bilateral governmental financiers, the EU and the UN". The DRC points out that it is also funded by "selling advisory and consultancy services related to the humanitarian aid sector". DRC consists of 30 organisation members and voluntary groups, while it maintains close collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with EU and UN institutes. DRC's "activities" are spread to Iran, Jordan, Turkey and Ukraine. In our country, DRC underlines that it seeks people for the "development of innovative, strategic partnerships with international, regional and local public and private bodies, including the authorities, humanitarian bodies, leaders of industry, businessmen as well as citizens' society".

- The NGO 'Save the children', which collaborates with 'Egon Zehnder' - a company that specializes in search and evaluation of executive managers, in firm organizing and company board consulting-  with 'Standard Chartered Bank' as well as two international law firms, the 'Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP' and the 'Baker & McKenzie'. 

- The 'ECHO 100 PLUS' (from Austria, with members including among others Eleni Varvitsioti, sister of Miltiadis Varvitsiotis; Lilian Evert, wife of the former deputy Minister of Finance Petros Doukas), the 'Solidarity' (charity institute of the Church of Greece) and the 'Pan-Piraeus Iniative of Support to Refugees and Immigrants - Refugees Welcome to Piraeus'.

Especially the last one, which lately has promoted activity via the internet, has proved the negative role that the NGOs can play for the refugees. As a self-appointed gate keeper in Piraeus' Port, this NGO has tried to prevent class-based unions from expressing their practical solidarity towards the immigrants and refugees. It's people came to the point to demand from the PAME-affiliated trade unions' members (who were visiting the refugee camp) to leave and even threatened them that they would call the "authorities". Talking to 'Rizospastis', immigrants unveiled that members of that specific NGO were saying that KKE doesn't want immigrants in the country. It is clear that these places, where thousands of refugees and immigrants are trying to live, are unsuitable and that they must be transfered immediately to decent places of temporary hospitality which would cover all their needs and which would operate under the responsibity of the state, without NGOs being in charge. It is also a fundamental issue that the needed procedures will be launched so that these people will be transfed to their destination countries. Based on these issues, the struggle of the working class, of the labor unions, of the Greek people must be strengthened against the refugee-immigration policy of the EU-government-bourgeois parties, being an element of solidarity towards refugees and immigrants.

Petros Anastasiadis.