EU will try to target ‘traffickers’ in addressing surge of migrants fleeing Northern Africa

EU will try to target ‘traffickers’ in addressing surge of migrants fleeing Northern Africa

[Ed. – Good luck with that.]

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration issues, said the operation would be “civil-military” modelled on previous military action in the Horn of Africa to combat Somali piracy. The military action would require a UN mandate.

No detail was supplied on the scale and range of the proposed operation, nor of who would take part in it. But European leaders from David Cameron to Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, were emphatic on Monday in singling out the fight against the migrant traffickers as the top priority in the attempt to rein in a crisis that is spiralling out of control.

“[This is] a systematic effort to capture and destroy vessels used by the smugglers. The positive results obtained with the [Somali] operation should inspire us to similar operations against smugglers in the Mediterranean,” said the European commission.

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But Rihards Kozlovskis, the Latvian interior minister, said the scheme could run into problems. “How can it be done?” he asked. “It’s not so easy this civil-military operation. We’re talking of the territorial waters of third countries.”

A senior EU official doubted whether the focus on targeting the traffickers would work. “The idea of surgical strikes on traffickers is not very serious. Do they know enough about the traffickers to mount a military operation?”

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