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UNSC mulls resolution to militarily confront traffickers in Mediterranean migrant crisis

AFP-JIJI

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The U.N. Security Council is discussing a draft resolution to address the crisis arising from the wave of migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe, Russia’s envoy said Wednesday.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the new measure “may well be” adopted this month during Russia’s presidency of the 15-member council.

The new text would be slightly different than a previous draft resolution that would have allowed a EU naval force to clamp down on migrant smugglers that operate in Libyan territorial waters.

Churkin said the new resolution would deal with action taken on the high seas, outside of Libya’s territorial waters.

He did not provide details, but diplomats said the British-drafted measure would authorize the seizure in international waters of ships operated by migrant smugglers.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini had gone before the Security Council in May to request U.N. backing for Europe’s plan to confront the migrant crisis by using military force against smugglers.

But the text had required the approval of Libya’s government, and, due to the political tumult in the country, the internationally recognized Libyan government does not control the coastal territory.

More than 350,000 people have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, a huge jump from 2014, when 219,000 made the perilous journey.