Aegean Sea: Refugees:Written question - 30015

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 07 March 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Aegean Sea: Refugees
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the compatibility with international law of NATO ships operating in the Aegean Sea returning migrants to Turkey.
A
Answered by: Mr David Lidington
Answered on: 15 March 2016

The purpose of this NATO activity is to provide monitoring, surveillance, and reconnaissance (MSR) of the Aegean migration routes to cue Turkish and Greek coastguards and Frontex (the EU’s border management agency) to intercept the migrant boats and disrupt the business model of illegal migration


If UK vessels encounter migrants in distress at sea, they will be rescued in accordance with international obligations and arrangements made for them to be returned to land. The choice of destination will be guided by international law and consideration for the safety of the migrants


The UK will act at all times in accordance with its obligations under domestic and international law. Turkey has agreed that rescued migrants who have travelled from Turkey can be returned to Turkey. We are co-ordinating our approach with our NATO Allies as well as with Frontex.

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