News / Europe

    NATO Responds to Migrant Crisis; Ships on Way

    Greek Coast Guard vessel Agios Efstratios, carrying refugees and migrants following a rescue operation, approaches the port of the Greek island of Lesbos, Feb. 8, 2016. Picture taken Feb. 8, 2016.
    Greek Coast Guard vessel Agios Efstratios, carrying refugees and migrants following a rescue operation, approaches the port of the Greek island of Lesbos, Feb. 8, 2016. Picture taken Feb. 8, 2016.
    Luis Ramirez

    NATO warships are heading to the Aegean Sea to help Turkey and Greece stop human traffickers, marking the entry of the alliance into efforts to deal with the growing flow of migrants to Europe.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said three ships under German command were being deployed immediately to help the Turkish and Greek coast guards with reconnaissance and surveillance. For now, the vessels do not have orders to intercept boats carrying migrants.

    The decision to send the ships came at the end of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels and was in response to a request by Germany, Turkey, and Greece.

    Urgency

    NATO’s action reflects a growing sense of urgency among western governments as officials project four million refugees will seek asylum in Europe this year.

    Germany has been one of the top destinations for migrants and refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria while Turkey, a NATO member, has borne much of the burden, hosting close to three million refugees.

    Migrants queue to get free food as they wait to travel to Greek islands by dinghies, near Cesme, Izmir, Turkey, late Thursday Dec. 31, 2015.
    Migrants queue to get free food as they wait to travel to Greek islands by dinghies, near Cesme, Izmir, Turkey, late Thursday Dec. 31, 2015.

    Turkish warning

    Turkey has long requested assistance in dealing with the flow, often sparking tension between it and other members of the alliance. On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed threats to release a wave of migrants into Europe.

    “We can open the doors, and tell them ‘have a good journey,’” Erdogan said Thursday. The Turkish leader confirmed reports of a conversation he had with European Union officials last year in which he said he would send busloads of migrants to Western Europe if he did not reach a deal for assistance to cope with the crisis. The minutes of that meeting were recently leaked to Greek and Turkish media.

    Stop human trafficking

    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    The alliance, however, wants to portray the deployment of its maritime component, the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, as a measure to protect the refugees and not as a means to keep them out of Europe or portray them as a threat.

    The United States has welcomed efforts to assist Turkey and Greece, but U.S. officials say the goal of sending ships is, above all, to stop human trafficking.

    “There is now a criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people and this is an organized smuggling operation,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said to reporters in Brussels.

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks at a news conference during a NATO Defence Ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 11, 2016.
    U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks at a news conference during a NATO Defence Ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 11, 2016.

    The NATO maritime group deploying to the Aegean Thursday is made up of vessels from Canada, Germany, and Turkey.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    February 11, 2016 11:56 PM
    USA created this refugee mess?
    Why not USA accepts her responsibility by granting all these poor refugees citizenship?
    Now Ash carter blames CRINIMAL SYNDICATE for the mess.
    USA creates conflicts all over the world, from Ukraine, Middle-East, North Africa, Central Africa, Afghanistan and Latin America.
    Currently USA is very active in stirring up wars in Korea peninsular, East China Sea, Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, creating more refugees, destructions and deaths.

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