EU seeks UN mandate for dismantling migrant traffickers
Alliance preparing to launch naval crackdown to seize smugglers' boats off Libya

The EU’s foreign policy chief asked the UN Security Council on Monday to back European efforts to disrupt criminal human trafficking networks across the Mediterranean.

The UN says at least 3,000 victims lost their lives in 2014 in the Mediterranean, mostly after departing from Libyan shores. In 2015, as many as 1,800 others are believed to have perished in the Mediterranean en route to Europe.

"It is not only a humanitarian emergency, but also a security crisis, since smuggling networks are linked to, and in some cases finance, terrorist activities, which contributes to instability in a region that is already unstable enough," Federica Mogherini said in a Council briefing on EU plans to tackle the crisis.

Mogherini's remarks came as the 28-member EU is preparing for a naval crackdown to seize smugglers' boats in international waters as well as in Libya’s territorial waters.

The European body is seeking a clear international mandate before launching the operation.

"We cannot do it alone, this has to be a common global effort, that's why we count on your support to save lives and dismantle criminal organizations that are exploiting people's desperation," Mogherini told the Security Council, the UN's most powerful body and only one that can authorize the use of force in crises.

An estimated 60,000 refugee have arrived in Italy in 2015, most departing from Libya, according to UN figures.

EU's top diplomat also said refugees or migrants intercepted at sea during the proposed operation would be returned against their will.

Following the briefing, she told reporters that a draft proposal on the issue would be circulated to Security Council members later Monday.

Last Modified: 2015-05-12 08:36:25
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