Author Topic: UK Joins NATO Force in Aegean to Crackdown on Refugee Flow  (Read 675 times)


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UK Joins NATO Force in Aegean to Crackdown on Refugee Flow 
Mar 7

 The British prime minister said his army will send a warship to join the NATO force in the sea between Turkey and Greece.

The United Kingdom will join the NATO force in the Aegean Sea in order to intercept and return refugees trying to reach Greece and Europe from Turkey, Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday.

The British Royal Navy is deploying the amphibious landing ship RFA Mounts Bay as the first U.K. contribution to the NATO deployment in the Aegean, The Guardian reported Sunday.

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Cameron said the NATO operation is "an opportunity to stop the smugglers and send out a clear message to migrants contemplating journeys to Europe that they will be turned back. That's why the UK is providing vital military assets to work with our European partners and support this mission."

The British ship could start operations within days and will spot smugglers taking refugees to Greece and pass information to Turkish coastguards so they can be intercepted.

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The NATO force includes ships from Germany, Canada, Turkey and Greece. More than 3,000 refugees arrive at Greek shores from Turkey everyday, according to official estimates by Athens.

The U.K.'s announcement came a few hours after 25 people drowned when their boat capsized off the Turkish coast.

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Turkey is hosting more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees and has warned that many more are expected to arrive amid fighting in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

Greece, which is the arrival point of most western Europe-bound refugees, has been calling on European countries to share the burden of the crisis. There are more than 35,000 people stranded on the Greek border as several eastern European countries have introduced border controls.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras slammed the decision to tighten restrictions and turn away refugees. "Europe is in the midst of a nervous crisis, primarily for reasons of political weakness," he told top officials of his Syriza party Sunday.

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The news comes a day before a critical EU-Turkey summit where Brussels hopes to finalize a deal with Ankara for stemming the refugee flow by offering billions of dollars in aid, a visa-free deal for Turks and speeding up Turkey's membership in the EU.