Action needed in North Africa and Middle East – NATO

Alliance and Mediterranean partners united

05 September, 15:36

    (ANSAmed) - NAPLES, SEPTEMBER 5 - NATO is concerned about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and needs to act, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Alejandro Alvargonzalez said on Tuesday. "(NATO) members must feel safe regardless of the threat," he added at the inauguration of the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub near Naples.

    "The hub is just one of the actions undertaken by NATO to give members 360 degree security," Alvargonzalez said. "Considering in particular the crises in Syria, Iraq and Libya it is clear how NATO security and the security of our partners in the Mediterranean and Middle East are indissolubly linked," he continued.

    Separately, Allied Joint Force Command Southern Europe Commander Admiral Michelle Howard said information exchange is "fundamental" also on the issue of migration. "It helps us to understand who these people are, to distinguish between those who are fleeing danger and those who come with bad intentions," she explained. On migraton NATO already operates with the support of two member countries, Turkey and Greece, without forgetting Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean, the admiral said. "According to the UNHCR 65.6 million people globally have been forced to leave their homes and 56% of the migration flow … concerns the geographical area falling under the auspices of the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub," she added. North Africa and the Middle East need to be monitored in the long-term because "Africa alone covers 20% of the Earth's surface area, without counting the great strategic importance of its naval and air space". "Over the next 20 years Africa will account for a quarter of the global population. Several countries in Africa and the Middle East have experienced instability and violence fuelled by religious and ethnic conflict," Admiral Howard concluded.

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