NATO Weighs Refugee-Monitoring Mission for Mediterranean Fleet

  • U.S.-led alliance considers backing up EU warships off Libya
  • North Africa seen as new embarkation point for migrants to EU

NATO said it may reassign its Mediterranean Sea taskforce to help the European Union control the flow of refugees from northern Africa.

The warships, on counterterrorism duty since the September 2001 attacks on the U.S., may be given the job of backing up an EU fleet now monitoring the trafficking of migrants from Libya.

“We already do that in the Aegean Sea, and we are considering what more we can do in other parts of the Mediterranean,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday in Brussels.

Attention is turning to the northern African coast as the embarkation point for the next wave of refugees, as an EU-Turkey accord clamps down on the numbers who risk the Aegean crossing.

Germany led a group of NATO warships into the Aegean to monitor refugee flows there and liaise with the Greek and Turkish coast guards.

Stoltenberg said the larger NATO taskforce can provide a realtime snapshot of traffic elsewhere in the Mediterranean, keep sea lanes clear and engage in the “interdiction” of human smugglers and terrorists.

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