UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to deploy a naval ship and a helicopter in the Aegean Sea to combat illegal migration from Turkey to the rest of Europe.
Deployed as a part of the international response to Nato’s mission to combat the migration crisis, the UK Royal Navy will deploy the amphibious landing ship Mounts Bay of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), supplemented by a Wildcat helicopter.
The ship will join forces with three border force boats, VOS Grace, which is already active in the region; the cutter Protector, which is on its way to the region; and another Border Force cutter, which is expected to commence its operation later this month.
At an EU summit held in Brussels, Cameron urged EU allies to crack down on the gangs smuggling people across the sea to Europe, and to assist Turkey in housing 2.6 million migrants, as well as to offer technical assistance to Greece for processing migrant claims and deporting illegal migrants back to their native lands.
Cameron said: "This migration crisis is the greatest challenge facing Europe today.
"Britain has not faced anywhere near the scale of migrants coming to Europe as other countries because we are out of Schengen and retain control of our borders.
"But where we can help, we should. And we’ve got to break the business model of the criminal smugglers and stop the desperate flow of people crammed into makeshift vessels from embarking on a fruitless and perilous journey.
"That’s why this Nato mission is so important. It’s 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."
Greece witnessed an average inflow of about 1,800 migrants every day in February, with this year already accounting for more than 116,000 arrivals across the Aegean.
This step is an attempt by the European countries to assist and prevent the illegal passage of migrants across the Aegean Sea by smugglers.
Said to be Nato’s first intervention in the migrant crisis, RFA Mounts Bay will join the German Navy flagship FGS Bonn, the Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredericton, Turkish Navy frigate TCG Barbaros and Greek Navy frigate HS Salamis.
The UK Royal Navy ships HMS Bulwark and HMS Richmond deployed in the Mediterranean last year as part of wider EU operations in the region.
Image: RFA Mounts Bay will be deployed in the Aegean Sea to prevent illegal migration. Photo: courtesy of Michael Q. Retana, US Marine Corp.