EU Launches Navy Operation Against Migrant-Traffickers - The Epoch Times

The warning came after European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to launch a naval operation to combat people-traffickers who have brought thousands of migrants on perilous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

In a statement released today, the council said the operation would "identify, capture, and dispose of vessels and enabling assets" being used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers.

The naval operation was officially launched by EU foreign ministers at a Luxembourg meeting, the Associated Press reported.

To meet their reservations, the April summit agreed that advancing to Phases 2 and 3 would require a United Nations Security Council Resolution and agreement from Libya where rival factions are fighting for control and the internationally-recognised government has fled Tripoli to take up residence in Benghazi. "This covers information-gathering and patrolling on the high seas to support the detection and monitoring of smuggling networks", the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told reporters.

Tiny has been done to thwart the smugglers until now, as the focus has been on search and rescue of those who are putting their lives at risk.

"We know already that traffickers are ringing the Italian coastguard and telling them when the boats are setting off. So we need to get to grips with the operation itself and start to tackle the trafficking routes further back," he added.

By June 17, more than 114,000 migrants had crossed the Mediterranean this year, according to the worldwide Organization for Migration, with a lot of them arriving in Italy and Greece.

With up to 1,000 people taking part, EUnavfor Med is to cost the EU €11.8 million over its first two months.

Many have drowned in the Mediterranean, including about 800 killed in a shipwreck in April.

The mission, dubbed "EU NAVFOR Med", will initially be based on five warships, two submarines, three maritime patrol aircraft with drones and helicopters in addition, officials said. "The issue of the legitimacy of the announced and discussed actions is still on the agenda". Member states have so far failed to adopt the proposals, amid disagreement on whether the redistribution figures should be binding, and how many people each country should accept.

Mogherini said she expects an "effective answer" from EU leaders this week.

He said: "Migrants will keep coming if they think they are going to be settled".

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