The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced yesterday that the alliance will attempt to crack down on human smuggling in the Aegean Sea by sending ships to police the waters between Turkey and Greece, the Christian Science Monitor website reports today (February 12, 2016).
European Union and United Nations officials have struggled for some time with the idea of using force to confront the refugee crisis. In the first five weeks of 2016 alone, more than 70,000 migrants crossed the Aegean to Greece, many of them refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. In 2015, only about four thousand entered Greece by sea in the same period of time.
"Europe is facing the greatest refugee and migrant crisis since the end of the Second World War," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a press conference yesterday, "driven by conflict and instability on our southern borders, as well as criminal networks that traffic in human suffering."
Many refugees who cross to Greece are fleeing a civil war in Syria that has displaced millions during the last five years, both within the country and in the Middle East and Europe.