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Greece gives 10-day deadline to NGOs dealing with refugees to register

Greece has issued a 10-day deadline to NGOs dealing with refugees to apply for official registration. Those NGOs that will fail to do so will have no right to continue their activities in the country, the Ministry for Citizen Protection said in a statement. The move comes as the government tries to implement a stricter migration policy.
Legal representatives of the Non-Governmental Organizations dealing with refugees/migrants will have a period of 10 working days to submit their application for registration at the NGOs registry, the ministry said.
Documents to be submitted include the statutory legalization of the organizations.
Last week, the Greek government said that NGOs dealing with refugees and migrants have to fulfill certain criteria.
However, much to KTG’s knowledge these criteria have not been revealed, so far.

An unknown number of mostly foreign NGOs jumped in when the refugee crisis started in 2015 and the European Union decided to channel the financial aid for the problem to such organizations. In the usual EU practice, no control and feed-back has been asked about how the money has been spent.

It was easy that things got out of control with money flowing without the essential monitoring.

The non-governmental organization became often target of allegations that they have been facilitating the arrival of refugees and migrants and even working together with smugglers.

The move to have these NGOs registered in a national registry is in the right direction.

PS It is just 4 years too late.

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  1. An excellent step in the right direction!

    The same should be applied to anonymous offshore companies. Those companies which are owners of houses, yachts and whatever in Greece; which make loans to Greek residents; etc. My understanding is that there are about 16,000 such companies. Such companies should be given a deadline by which they have to provide information about themselves, the most important of which would be to reveal their beneficial owner. The ‘incentive’ to register could be a tax penalty if the deadline is not met. For example, that tax could be 1% per month of the value of the Greek assets owned by an anonymous offshore company, impounded on the Greek asset. The beneficial owner can either reveal his name (in all likelihood a wealthy Greek who evaded taxes) or he can stand by and watch how his asset gradually transfers into state ownership.

  2. I have to be honest with you, there are a number of errors in this article, perhaps the most serious of which is that humanitarian organisations ‘don’t have to tell’ the EU what they have done with its money.

    Of COURSE they do. Who on Earth told you they didn’t? Every single cent absolutely must be documented, and the accounts are examined by EU staff.

    They didn’t/don’t have to tell the Greek government what they do with the EU’s money because, well, it’s not the Greek government giving the money. If it were, they would have to tell them, too.

    I saw in Kathimerini the allegation that there were concerns about ‘money laundering’ which was absolutely told to them by a government politician, while you start talking about ‘working with smugglers’ which is utterly irrelevant to the vague ‘not telling people how money is spent’ and in all honesty irrelevant to the issue of registration. If laws are broken that’s separate from whether an organisation is registered.

    To be clear, no organisation objects to registering.

    But this casual smearing of people who are literally helping Greece, as well as vulnerable men, women and children is unjustifiable, and this article is simply wrong to claim aid organisations don’t have to say what they spend EU money on.

    They do. Please correct this demobstrable falsehood immediately, and please in future don’t just swallow whole everything you are told by members of the government.

    Thank you.

  3. Also, you say it’s ‘four years too late’ but the register has been in operation for two years already, and has 70 organisations on it…

    • Don’t you think that 70 organizations is a little absurd. How do you even coordinate the relief effort with so many different entities. And, isn’t it quite possible that the funds are not being spent the proper way with so many hands?

    • @ OKeeffe
      You are obviously a good faith supporter of NGOs and I respect that. I would still offer a differing view.

      Not too long ago, I saw an article about the extent of EU financial support for the Greek refugee situation. I believe it was close to 2 BEUR since 2015. And here is my point: only a fraction of that amount, I believe it was about one-fifth, went to the Greek state; the bulk of it went to NGOs.

      Now that kind of approach by the EU baffles me. The refugees come to Greek territory and there is nothing, in my opinion, which an outside organization should do on Greek territory without coordinating it with the Greek government. In fact, I would argue more. I would argue that the final say of where and on what EU money is being spent on Greek territory should be with the Greek government.

      Contrary to what you believe, the EU DOES NOT check the application of their funds for compliance, be those normal EU subsidies or special subsidies for refugees. The EUs argument is that they simply do not have the staff to do this, so they delegate this responsibility to the national governments. The same would apply to NGOs. The EU approves applications and that is it.

      Just like you are a supporter of NGOs, I am quite critical of them. While I do not doubt that there are NGOs which literally comply with the noble mandate they give themselves, I think that this system also has the characteristics of a racket. When hundreds of billions are being spent without a formal reckoning, it simply invites misuse of funds. Not to mention the potential for inefficiency due to lack of coordination. I don’t know about Greece and the Aegean but certainly between Italy and North Africa, some NGOs have de facto been in collusion with the migrant haulers thereby increasing the number of transports (and the number of drownings!).

      I think the Greek government is right in demanding more insight into the activities of NGOs. As I said above, I think they should ask for a lot more than just insights.

      • The EU has given Greece – the state, not ngos – 3.17bn Euros since 2015. From AMIF, a fund not available to ngos.

        I am not sure why the Greek government should be told where money it has not given ngos is spent by ngos. I certainly think ngos should tell the EU where they spend it – and they do.

        If the Greek government wants to know these things, perhas it can ask the EU, which has handed the Greek government – not ngos – billions of euros in the last four years.