NATO approves Netherlands-backed Aegean Sea refugee response

Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari). (Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari))

The NATO allies agreed on a plan to help Greece and Turkey in the fight against human traffickers smuggling asylum seekers on the Aegean Sea, NATO Secretary General Jens Slotenberg said on Thursday, ANP reports.

NATO ships will work with the Turkish and Greek coast guards and the EU Frontex border guards to rescue asylum seekers from the waters and take them back to Turkey. The NATO ships and crews can not stop ships carrying asylum seekers, Their main task will be scouting, control and supervision.

"Our ships provide information to the coast guards and other national authorities in Greece and Turkey. That will help them to perform their duties more effectively in the fight against illegal networks", Stoltenberg said.

The Netherlands welcomes NATO's decision, Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs said. According to him, this plans fits within the Netherlands' broader efforts at international level to combat trafficking and illegal migration. The Netherlands is looking for the best way to contribute to the NATO effort, and is considering sending a ship to work as support.