Germany boosts Mediterranean force, targets people traffickers

2015-09-16 17:31
Migrants receive relief after disembarking in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. (Alessandro Fucarini, AP)

Migrants receive relief after disembarking in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. (Alessandro Fucarini, AP)

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Berlin - The German cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of 950 troops in total to the Mediterranean, providing additional personnel to hunt down human traffickers.

The move expands an existing two-ship rescue and information-gathering operation, involving a frigate and a supply ship staffed by 320 military personnel that began in May.

The aim of the new deployment is to seize the boats used by traffickers operating from the Libyan coastline and to take them out of action.

As the mission may well lead to the use of military force, the German parliament has to approve the deployment. The Bundestag is seen as certain to approve the measure when it votes at the beginning of next month.

EU member states approved the expansion of the operation on Monday.

Calling for solidarity within the European Union, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said they hoped the mission would have a deterrent effect.

They pointed to a similar EU deployment off the Horn of Africa to counter piracy, where there has been a dramatic decline in incidents.

About 2 620 migrants and refugees have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

More than 12 000 people have reached Italy by sea this year, IOM said.

Read more on:    germany  |  migrants

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