EU Agrees Naval Plan to Fight Mediterranean Migrant SmugglersEU | May 18, 2015, Monday // 21:07| views
European Union foreign and defence ministers on Monday approved plans for a naval operation targeting people smugglers in the Mediterranean operating mainly from Libya.
AP quoted two diplomats as saying the EU ministers approved the plans at their meeting in Brussels. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had yet to be officially announced.
The mission will be tasked with destroying the boats used by the traffickers to carry huge numbers of migrants from conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe.
According to the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the operation could be fully launched next month after the pledging of military equipment and military preparations.
“Today the main point will be taking the decision to establish the operation, the EU operation at sea to dismantle the criminal networks that are smuggling people in the Mediterranean," Mogherini said before the meeting.
She added the EU is looking for “partnership with all the relevant Libyan authorities”.
The EU’s task is complicated by the fact that Libya’s civil war has divided the North African country into rival camps loyal to two separate governing authorities vying for legitimacy - each with their own armed forces.
Disrupting the people-smuggling networks is part of a wider EU plan for tackling the migration crisis. The European Commission has urged EU member states to adopt national quotas for housing migrants, to ease the pressure on Italy, Greece and Malta.
While the EU agrees on the need to prevent people smugglers to carry migrants to Europe, it is divided on how to act as anti-immigrant parties gain support at home, Reuters noted in its coverage of the news.
Some 51,000 migrants have entered Europe by crossing the Mediterranean since the start of the year, with 30,500 of them coming via Italy. About 1,800 have drowned in the attempt, according to the UN refugee agency.
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