Warships off Libyan coast will seek to catch smugglers who bring people to the continent through dangerous sea route.
The United Nations Security Council has authorised European naval operations to seize and dispose of vessels operated by human traffickers in the high seas off Libya.
The 15-member council adopted on Friday the British-drafted resolution with 14 votes in favour. Venezuela abstained.
Al Jazeera’s James Bay, reporting from the UN, said there has been a lot of negotiations about this resolution and this was the final version.
“It has been supported by all the Security Council except Venezuela which abstained saying that this was a militarisation of the efforts to deal with the refugees in the Mediterranean.
“What this resolution does is it authorises a European naval force that will operate in the high seas of the coast of Libya. This is only limited to the problem of people coming from Libya towards Europe.
“But that is not just the big problem itself the figures from the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) suggests that 2,988 people have died making that journey this year. It is a serious problem and the EU governments who pushed this say that this should save lives.
“It is worth remembering that, originally, the talks were on a resolution would allow the EU force not only to be in international waters, but to come into the territorial waters in Libya and come on shore to destroy the boats of the people smugglers – but that is not in this resolution”.
Record number of refugees
On Friday, Libyan authorities arrested almost 300 people preparing to board boats to Europe. The men have been transferred to a detention centre in the capital, Tripoli.
Libya has for years been a stepping-stone for refugees, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, but also Syria and other Middle Eastern countries seeking to travel to Europe.
The IOM in a report released in September, said 522,124 people had travelled by sea to reach European countries.
About 388,000 have entered via Greece, and more than 175,000 of the total came from Syria – the largest single refugee source as a country.