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London charity accused of funding human trafficking gangs smuggling Somali migrants into Europe via Greece

UK-based Muslim charity Al-Khair Foundation, based in Croydon (pictured) was set up in 2003

(DailyMail) - A London charity has been accused by the Greek government of funding human trafficking gangs who are smuggling migrants into Europe.

The Al-Khair Foundation, based in Croydon, south London, was accused of aiding the smugglers by Notis Mitarachi, the Greek minister for migration.

The charity has vehmently denied the claims against them.

The government minister told The Times the charity was part of a network that helped moved refugees from Somalia to Greece via Turkey.

Mr Mitarachi also said the Foundation funded a boat crossing from Turkey to Greece in which 34 Somali migrants drowned.

He said testimonies from surviving migrants to Greek authorities supported reports by the intelligence agency about the smuggling networks, and suggested the charity part funded the migrants' trafficking fees.

A spokesperson from the Al-Khair Foundation told Mail Online: 'We totally refute these unfounded allegations, which are based on the word of an unidentified man and haven't been investigated.

'Our only work in Turkey is an initiative, which provides emergency response exclusively for Middle East refugees through providing them with winter clothes, food packs and hygiene kits.

'Al-Khair Foundation did not fund any travel as is alleged and we are seeking urgent talks with the Greek authorities for clarification.'

The London charity is one of several accused of being part of the smuggling chain.

He also pointed a finger at a Norwegian charity and another five unnamed European aid agencies.

Under Greek law, helping an illegal migrant to enter the country is a criminal offence.

The country's many islands have seen thousands of migrants arrive on their shores in 2020.

UK-based Muslim charity Al-Khair Foundation was set up in 2003, with their website stating that over a decade the charity has delivered £165 million of aid, focusing on emergencies, health, water, education, women, livelihood and shelter.

Mr Mitarachi said the smuggling operation begins by obtaining student and healthcare visa loophole for Somalis who then fly to Turkey and are allowed to move freely.

The Greek minister told The Times: 'Contacts in Mogadishu facilitate transport to Istanbul, even paying for migrant airfare on Turkish Airlines.

'From there, migrants are transported to key points along the Turkish coast, working with aid groups to push them to islands like Lesbos.

'Contacts push them to Athens... then to Berlin, then to Calais, where they are stashed in a truck, ending up in London.'

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel hailed a £28million new agreement with her French counterpart aimed at curbing the number of migrants reaching the UK in small boats.

But the deal has not stopped people making it to UK shores. French authorities are refusing to intercept migrant boats heading for Britain once they are in the English Channel, despite the deal.

More than 8,500 migrants were estimated to have successfully entered the country this year - up from 1,850 last year.

It comes after it emerged yesterday criminal charges against 69 Albanian migrants found hiding in a trawler heading for Britain were dropped after a legal bungle.

The migrants were arrested last month after the fishing boat was intercepted off the coast of East Anglia in an operation involving the National Crime Agency, police and Border Force officers on November 17.

But plans to prosecute them for illegal entry to the UK had to be abandoned because when arrested, they had not yet set foot on British soil – a key criteria under the law.

Ms Patel last month detailed plans for new legislation to make it easier for judges to expel foreign criminals.

Her pledge drew criticism from human rights lawyers and it is unclear how the new laws will align with existing human rights legislation enshrined in UK law through the Human Rights Act 1998.

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