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EU ministers discuss Mediterranean migrant issue


05-18-2015 19:54 BJT

EU defense and foreign ministers are discussing the Mediterranean migrant crisis, with officials pushing for military action to deal with the issue. 

"Today, the main point will be taking the decision to establish the operation - the EU operation at sea to dismantle the criminal networks that are smuggling people in the Mediterranean. I will expect this decision to be taken today so that we can move forward with the planning and possibly launch the operation," said Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief.

"Today it is about working out the next steps, which the heads of state and government asked us to do when they held their summit. Even though rescue remains the main priority, we have to focus on the causes that lead people to risk making the highly dangerous journey across the sea," said Ursula Von Der Leyen, German Defense Minister.

The European Union ultimately wants to capture smugglers and destroy their boats off the Libyan coast to help it tackle the rising number of migrants fleeing war and poverty in North Africa, but many EU countries want UN authorisation to act. 

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said an EU decision on Monday would make it more likely  that the UN Security Council would authorize military action. Some 51 thousand migrants have entered Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea this year, with 30,000 going via Italy. The UN refugee agency said about 1,800 have drowned in the attempt.

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