European Union leaders have pledged extra ships, planes and and a tripling in funds to save lives in the Mediterranean after the deaths at sea of more than 1,300 migrants over the past three weeks.
The member states at an emergency summit convened in Brussels on Thursday agreed to triple funding to $9.7m a month for the EU's border operation that patrols the Mediterranean Sea.
Leaders from the 28-nation bloc also said they were discussing laying the ground for military action against traffickers.
Matteo Renzi, Italy's prime minister, whose country has been faced with almost daily tragedy as rescuers plucked bodies from frigid waters, called it "a giant step forward".
Germany and France pledged two ships while Britain committed three to move into the Mediterranean, and other member states also lined up more vessels and helicopters that could be used to rescue migrants, officials said.
French President Francois Hollande said he would seek a UN resolution to support the destruction of traffickers' boats.
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Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from Brussels, said that while the Triton border-control operation can rescue people, its main purpose is to stop people getting to Europe.
"The message coming out loud and clear from the EU was that the priority was to stop people getting on the boats in the first place," our correspondent said, adding that French President Francois Hollande had committed to going to the UN to seek approval to attack smugglers' boats on the Libyan coast.
Human rights organisations expressed their disappointment in the EU's announcement.
Amnesty International said that Triton's operational area must be extended to the "high seas" where most of the migrant deaths occur.
"What we witnessed today in Brussels was a face-saving not a life-saving operation," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's Director for Europe and Central Asia.
The pledge of resources came as victims of the Mediterranean's worst-ever migrant disaster were buried in the island nation of Malta on Thursday.
Two dozen caskets containing the only bodies recovered from the weekend capsizing that left an estimated 800 dead were laid out for a memorial service on the grounds of the country's main hospital.
None of the bodies was identified. One casket had "No 132" scrawled on it, referring to the number of the DNA sample taken from the corpse in case a relative ever comes to claim it.
The bodies were later buried at the island nation's largest cemetery.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, said the UK would contribute the navy's flagship, HMS Bulwark , along with three helicopters and two border patrol ships to the EU effort.
"As the country in Europe with the biggest defence budget we can make a real contribution," he said, but added that this would not include accepting a share of the refugees.
German army sources told the DPA news agency Berlin would offer to send the troop supply ship Berlin as well as frigates Karlsruhe and Hessen toward Italy, reported the AP news agency.
The ships currently participate in the anti-piracy operation Atalanta at the Horn of Africa and could be in the Mediterranean within five days.
Belgium and Ireland each said they stood ready to commit a navy ship.
The task ahead is huge, with more than 10,000 migrants plucked from seas between Italy and Libya just over the last week, fleeing poverty and conflict.
For several years, EU leaders have done little more than deplore the rising death toll and mark tragedies with moments of silence and wreaths instead of fundamental action.
Libya, which is facing political turmoil after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, has emerged as the conduit for most of the migrants headed to Europe in search of better life.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte insisted that Europe should not take the brunt of blame.
"We also ask that Africa, the source of the problem, also collectively takes up its responsibility," Rutte said. "Last time I checked Libya was in Africa, not Europe."
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies