Reaction from State Secretary


Dear mr. Voorberg,

I received your letter dated October 2nd. I understand from your letter your organization has rented an airplane and is planning on flying it to Lesbos with the intention to transfer back immigrants and refugees from Lesbos to the Netherlands.

I understand your desire to help the immigrants and refugees in Greece. Just like you, our government wants to improve the situation in Greece, and especially on Lesbos. After the fires in camp Moria, the Dutch government offered Greece to take in a couple of minors and families. This offer was for 50 unaccompanied minors and 50 people in family relationship with children under the age of 18. The Netherlands also provided a 1-million-euro emergency relief for the vulnerable migrants, and refugees and Dutch experts in asylum and border management are supporting the Greek authorities (under the flag of EU agencies) with improving the reception as well as the asylum and return procedures. 

Other members have also offered help with relocation of migrants and refugees from Greece. Currently the Greece authorities, de European Commission and other European countries are working closely together on this relocation. Although I share the need to act quickly, it is also important to prepare this relocation with great care. Among other things, it is important to carry out safety checks and – very relevant at the moment – health checks. It must also be verified whether there may already be family members elsewhere in the EU. Such checks are not completed in a few days. 

The committed relocations and other ways of support from the Netherlands and other members of the EU help to improve the pressing humanitarian situations due to the fires at Moria. At the same time the Greek government is working intensely to improve the conditions of the shelters at Lesbos. At short notice by providing shelter for all migrants and refugees, but also to organize structural improvements to their situations. De European commission, UNHCR, IOM and several NGO’s are closely collaborating. 

In your letter you are asking me to agree to the relocation of 189 people from the former refugee camp Moria. Although I appreciate your intentions, I believe that your private initiative is not the right way to help. You thus cross the aforementioned, already initiated efforts of the Greek authorities, the European Commission, the Netherlands and other members. I cannot therefore grant your request to relocate persons from Lesbos to the Netherlands. 

The government will continue to make bilateral and EU efforts to support Greece in the relocation of migrants and refugees. My Greek coadjutor, mister Koumoutsakos, has more than once indicated that he appreciates the Dutch commitment.

I am sure there are also ways for your foundation to cooperate with the Greek authorities and other parties involved, so that the resources that your foundation has at its disposal benefit the correct reception of migrants. 

Kind regards,

State Secretary for Law and Security