A group of refugee activists is planning to fly an empty plane to the Greek island of Lesbos to try to pick up nearly 200 migrants. The group wants to bring the migrants to the Netherlands.
The activist group 'Let’s Bring Them Here' raised money through crowdfunding to charter a passenger plane, which they hope to fly to Greece next week. The aircraft with nearly 200 seats reserved for migrants is scheduled to take off for Lesbos on Monday morning, the AP news agency reported.
But one of organizers acknowledged Thursday that there is only a very small chance that Dutch authorities will give them clearance to fly any migrants into the Netherlands. "It would be a bizarre miracle if it happens," said Let’s Bring Them Here’s Rikko Voorberg.
An open letter published on the group’s website in English, Farsi and Arabic and addressed "Dear refugees in Lesvos" also says the plan’s success is dependent on gaining official permission to airlift migrants off the island.
“We have to try, even if it fails," the letter says.
The action is aimed at raising awareness of the situation of migrants on Lesbos and elsewhere with limited prospects for relocation to other European countries, according to the activist group.
More than 26,000 migrants who are waiting for their asylum claims to be processed live in camps on Greek islands, where most arrived after crossing from the nearby Turkish coast. More than half are on Lesbos, where the infamous Moria camp burned to the ground last month.
On Wednesday, 139 vulnerable asylum seekers who had been living in the island camps were taken on an officially sanctioned flight to Germany, as part of efforts to ease overcrowding and move migrants to other European countries.
This is not the first time the activist group has tried to relocate migrants from Greece. In 2018 they organized a city bus and 35 cars to drive to Athens in an attempt to bring people back to the Netherlands. That convoy returned empty-handed.
The Dutch government did not immediately comment on the planned flight, AP said.