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Europe defense ministers to discuss military force against migrant boats

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
EU leaders hold a minute of silence to remember the migrant victims who perished while trying to reach Europe, prior to a round table extraordinary EU summit meeting on April 23, 2015. © AFP

Five European defense ministers are to discuss military action to halt human trafficking to their shores and stem the flow of migrants from North Africa’s coastal waters.

Defense ministers from France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain are to meet Sunday on the sidelines of the events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lorient in western France to discuss ways to counter what they refer to as a new threat to Europe that has so far left thousands dead, AFP reported.

Following a number of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks ever witnessed in the Mediterranean so far this year, the ministers "will examine possible options for European (military) action," the French Defense Ministry said.

The most controversial option due to be discussed during the meeting will be the destruction by military force of the boats used by human traffickers before they are loaded with migrants for a risky journey to European shores.

Most of the boats load the migrants in the lawless shores of the war-ravaged Libya, where persisting national conflict among rival governing bodies has allowed human traffickers to operate with impunity.

Rescued migrants disembark off the Italian Guardia Costiera vessel Fiorillo at the Sicilian harbor of Catania on April 24, 2015. ©AFP

The development comes after over 5,000 refugees were killed over the past 18 months as boats operated by human traffickers capsized off Libya's coastal waters, alarming European authorities to stop the flow of immigrants.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is also scheduled to submit a plan to the United Nations Security Council on Monday, demanding that the UN  lead military operations against smugglers.

Critics, however, insist that taking military action in Libyan waters or halting a vessel flying the country's flag without an international mandate would be in violation of the international law.

Additionally, the defense ministers are also expected to discuss the Saturday crash of the new Airbus A400M military aircraft in Spain during a test flight that killed four people.

The deadly incident led Britain, Germany and Turkey to ground their new troop and vehicle transporter, while France announced that it will continue flying its fleet of the aircraft.


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