EU heads of states are holding a summit to find a solution to the migrant crisis in the 28-nation bloc as the option of military action against human traffickers in Libya is on the table.
During the meeting in the Belgium capital city of Brussels on Thursday, the European leaders are expected to focus on a military response to stem the tide of refugees who make their way to Europe by sea.
According to reports, a draft statement, which is likely to be approved by the EU authorities, would commit the leaders to “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers.”
The statement also invites EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini “to immediately begin preparations for a possible security and defense policy operation to this effect, in accordance with international law.”
If passed, the statement marks the first time EU governments restore to military force to fight illegal migration.
However, a diplomatic source has rejected the possibility of “boots on the ground.”
The statement also proposes that the EU member states provide resettlement to 5,000 migrants, which is a tiny part of the people arriving in EU in search for a better life every year.
UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, announced Britain’s readiness to deploy its flagship HMS Bulwark, three helicopters and two patrol ships to the Mediterranean in an attempt to contribute to the operation, as he arrived at the summit.
Belgium has also offered to provide a ship and logistical support.
Reactions to EU move
The EU’s proposal over the crisis drew harsh criticism even before the start of the summit.
Amnesty International denounced the response as “woefully inadequate and shameful,” while the UN rights and refugees high commissioners called the proposals “minimalist.”
A number of migrants also held a protest near the summit venue, attaching pieces of paper with the names of the victims onto barbed wire.
About 170,000 migrants entered the EU region through Italy last year, with most of them departing from Libya, according to the latest reports.
Predictions by aid groups show that if necessary measures are not taken to tackle the crisis, there could be 30,000 deaths at sea this year, with Italy having to process 200,000 migrants reaching the country.
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