NATO ships to combat migrant-smuggling networks in Aegean
The NATO mission was put in motion after receiving U.S. backing from Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter.
The flotilla would put NATO ships on the front lines in combating smuggling operations from NATO-member Turkey that enabled more than 1 million migrants to enter the European Union last year — setting off humanitarian and political crises across Europe.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg directed NATO maritime forces to immediately begin moving toward the eastern Aegean. NATO ally Greece has struggled to deal with the nonstop flow of migrants and refugees — many fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria.
“It is important to respond swiftly because this crisis effects us all,” Stoltenberg said.
Migrants continue to try the risky journey to islands in Greece, also a NATO ally, despite frigid waters that have claimed dozens of lives in recent weeks.
Speaking in Brussels, Carter commended requests from Turkish, Greek and German authorities to create a joint-maritime mission that would patrol the eastern Aegean Sea. The U.S. endorsement was seen as crucial to the plan’s viability.
“This is people’s lives and destinies at stake here and it’s important to act quickly,” Carter said.
Under the plan, three NATO vessels are to be tasked with reconnaissance and surveillance of known illegal trafficking routes in close cooperation with the European Union as well as Greek and Turkish coast guards.
Stoltenberg added that other NATO countries are looking to assist with the operation in the coming months.
“This is not about stopping and pushing back refugee boats,” Stoltenberg said. The aim, he said, was to counter criminal activity.
Stoltenberg said the new agreement ensures that Greek and Turkish forces will not operate in each other’s territorial waters.
You may be interested
Costa Rica Coffee Culture at a CrossroadsSteve Hodel - September 27, 2020
The traditional cafe society in Costa Rica has reached a cultural crossroads. Older generations of coffee drinking traditionalists are crossing…
International rejection grows against project that threatens NGOs and journalists in NicaraguaJulia RIOS / AFP - September 27, 2020
International rejection against a bill considered threatening to journalists and human rights defenders in Nicaragua increased Friday with demands that…
Slothy Sunday: Meet the sloth moms, released and thrivingRachael Griffiths / Toucan Rescue Ranch - September 27, 2020
This Sloth Sunday is dedicated to the released two-fingered sloth moms that have been prospering since being in Toucan Rescue Ranch’s…