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NATO ships to help stem refugee crisis in Aegean
 NATO joined efforts to combat people trafficking between Turkey and Greece on Thursday, agreeing to send ships to the Aegean.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the vessels would not be “stopping or pushing back refugee boats” but would provide information and surveillance to help counter people smuggling gangs ferrying refugees into Europe by sea.

NATO’s response follows a request from Turkey, Greece and Germany to assist.

“This is about helping Greece, Turkey and the EU with stemming the flow of migrants and refugees and coping with the situation and manage a human tragedy in a better way,” he told reporters in Brussels following a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

NATO will liaise with the Turkish and Greek coast guards, who have been struggling to protect and save refugees put at risk by gangs that place them on often unseaworthy boats.

This year has seen at least 319 refugee deaths in the Aegean already, according to the International Organization for Migration.

NATO has also agreed to step up reconnaissance and intelligence gathering on the Turkey-Syria border.

“Turkey is on the front line of this crisis and this will complement the NATO assurance measures for Turkey that we decided in December,” Stoltenberg said. “It is important to respond swiftly because this crisis affects all of us.”
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