- German chancellor called allies to send vessels to patrol the Turkish coast
- Defence ministers are considering military action to stop people smugglers
- Decision could be seen as admission that EU has failed to tackle the influx
- Downing Street refused to comment on whether British vessels are sent
- For more on the EU refugee crisis visit www.dailymail.co.uk/refugeecrisis
Warships will be deployed to stop migrants crossing the Aegean Sea to Europe, under a plan to be discussed by Nato defence chiefs today.
German chancellor Angela Merkel last night called on allies to send vessels to patrol the Turkish coast in a dramatic escalation of the response to the crisis.
Today at a meeting in Brussels, defence ministers will consider the request – supported by Turkey – for military action aimed at preventing people-smuggling gangs sending boatloads to Greek islands.
German chancellor Angela Merkel last night called on allies to send vessels to patrol the Turkish coast (pictured, migrants arrive on Greek island of Lesbos) in a dramatic escalation of the response to the crisis
A decision to intervene by the 28 Nato members, including Britain, will be seen as an admission that the EU has failed to tackle the problem.
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg last night said its members 'see the need to manage and to tackle the human tragedy' caused by the migrant crisis.
'I think we will take very seriously the request from Turkey and other allies to look into what Nato can do to help them cope and deal with the crisis and all the challenges they face, not least in Turkey,' he added.
Germany and Turkey put forward the appeal for military intervention after Mrs Merkel flew to Ankara to meet with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
She said they had agreed the Nato defence ministers' meeting should discuss how the alliance 'can be helpful with the surveillance situation' in the Mediterranean and assist the Turkish coast guard and EU border agency.
German chancellor Angela Merkel last night called on allies to send vessels to patrol the Turkish coast (pictured, migrants arrive on Greek island of Lesbos after crossing Aegean)
PUT ASYLUM IN BETTER-OFF PARTS OF THE UK
More asylum seekers could be housed in prosperous parts of the country to ease the burden on poorer areas.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire said the Home Office was looking at ‘expanding’ a programme which ensures refugees are evenly dispersed.
The move follows criticism from council chiefs in deprived areas that the housing scheme in place since 1999 is ‘dumping the poor on the poor’.
Officials are in talks with more councils to accept asylum seekers after it emerged some three-quarters had refused.
Under the scheme, councils sign up voluntarily to ensure the housing of refugees is shared around the nation. But it has fuelled anger after it emerged wealthier communities appeared not to be taking their fair share.
In June last year, Middlesbrough had 746 refugees – one in 43 of all those in Britain. Meanwhile West Oxfordshire, which covers Prime Minister David Cameron’s Witney constituency, failed to take a single one.
Yesterday Mr Brokenshire told the home affairs select committee: ‘We are looking to expand the number of local authorities involved in these dispersal areas.’
The Nato defence ministers will also review their response to a more assertive Russia. Mr Stoltenberg, Norway's former prime minister, said Russian involvement in Syria was 'undermining' peace efforts and 'making a desperate situation worse', adding: 'Calm and easing tensions is more important than ever.'
Downing Street last night struck a cautious note and refused to comment on whether British vessels could be sent.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the Government was 'supportive of looking at ways to help Turkey deal with the huge burden it has from refugees'.
She pointed out that the Royal Navy is already involved in efforts to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean. But she stressed that talks were at a very early stage with 'no proposals' yet on the table.
Douglas Lute, US ambassador to Nato, appeared to voice frustration that the EU had not been able to manage the crisis, but said the German-Turkish request would not be unusual as member states regularly ask for help.
A decision to intervene by the 28 Nato members will be seen as an admission that the EU has failed to tackle the migrant problem (pictured, migrants arrive on Greek island of Lesbos after crossing Aegean)
He said the EU had 'primary responsibility' for tackling the problem, adding: 'This is fundamentally an issue which should be addressed a couple of miles from here, in the EU [headquarters].'
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said: 'We welcome all discussions on potential measures which could contribute to addressing the refugee crisis, save lives at sea and improve the management of migratory flows and borders.'
The Royal Navy has been part of an EU operation in the Mediterranean since May last year, tackling people-smuggers between Libya and Italy.