The European Union says that it has a moral duty to solve the migration crisis in the Mediterranean. Following the death of about 1,300 migrants in three accidents in less than 14 days, the EU leadership held an emergency meeting in Luxembourg on Monday (20 April) to discuss possible responses to the death of several hundreds migrants after a packed trawler had capsized off the Libyan coast at the weekend. The immediate decision of th meeting was to bolster maritime patrols in the Mediterranean and provide the naval mission a broader search-and-rescue mandate.
Another summit of EU leaders is taking place in Brussels today (23 April) with the objective to elaborate on what was quickly approved on Monday. After the recent series of accidents, the EU got under pressure to quickly hammer out new policies addressing the headlines that label the migration crisis as “Europe’s shame”. The EU has therefore given its support to a military operation against the network of human traffickers and smugglers in Libya who are considered responsible for sending thousands to their death in the waters of the Mediterranean. Moreover, Brussels has called for a closer cooperation with Libya’s neighbours like Niger, Tunisia, and Egypt in an attempt to track and close down the migratory routes.
EU diplomacy chief, Federica Mogherini, commented that she hoped that this was “the turning point in the European conscience, not to go back to promises without actions” and added that the possibility of “destroying ships” was being discussed. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for migration issues, stressed that the operation in Libya would be “civil-military” similar to the military action in the Horn of Africa to fight Somali piracy. Such a military action would require a UN mandate but no details have been provided yet.