Immigration: NATO, no images, no responsibility

Alliance send third clarification letter to rapporteur

24 April, 17:37

(ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, APRIL 24 - NATO is denying any responsibility for the deaths of 63 migrants in the Mediterranean in March of 2011. In a third letter sent to the rapporteur at the Council of Europe, Tineke Strik from Holland, the Atlantic alliance states that it is not in possession of any ''satellite images that could help identify military, commercial or any other type of vessels'' that may have been present in the sea area at the time in question. ''NATO has not declared a 'military zone' in the Mediterranean and did not play a coordinating role in the search and rescue operations in the area,'' spokesperson Oana Lungescu points out. While admitting that ''helicopters from vessels under NATO command flew over the zone where the migrants' boat was positioned at the time of the incident,'' in its letter, NATO insists that ''there is no evidence'' in its possession ''linking helicopters under NATO command to the time and place at which the survives state they were given water and biscuits''. At the time of the incident, the Alliance further states, ''only eight ships under NATO command were in the Mediterranean to patrol an operational area of 61,000 nautical miles''. The Alliance promises that it will give the Council's recommendations ''their fullest attention'' and that it is already examining how it may strengthen ''reciprocal exchange of information and search and rescue procedures''. NATO and its allies assured that they will continue ''to review the information carefully in order better to understand what happened during the two weeks during which the boat was at sea''. (ANSAmed).

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