Italy at war with migrant smugglers

More than 500 rescued people were brought ashore to Italy  yesterdayItaly says it is “at war” with migrant traffickers, and has urged the EU to take robust action to stop more people dying in the Mediterranean.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi made the comment ahead of an EU summit on Thursday to discuss the crisis.

Italy’s Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told Italian TV that the EU should consider military intervention.

More than 800 people drowned off Libya’s coast on Sunday, bringing the number of deaths this year to 1,750.

The number of people attempting to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, particularly Eritreans and Syrians, has spiked in recent months, leading to huge numbers of people drowning in unseaworthy and often overcrowded vessels.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says there have been 30 times as many deaths so far in 2015 as in the same period last year and the figure could rise to 30,000.

More than 500 people rescued from several other boats were brought ashore by Italian coastguards on yesterday.

Addressing the Italian parliament on yesterday, Mr Renzi described the human smugglers as “the slave traders of the 21st Century”.

He said the 28-member EU must come up with concrete measures to tackle the growing problem.

Separately, Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told Sky TG24 TV: “We know where the smugglers keep their boats, where they gather.”

“The plans for military intervention are there,” she said.

However, some experts dismissed such plans as unrealistic. “This problem is totally unsolvable with military means,” retired French Admiral Alain Coldefy told AFP.

“Politicians have on several occasions asked me the question of what could be done to stop this trafficking by force, and the response is simple: nothing.

“Once these boats loaded with migrants have left Libyan waters, we can only apply international rules, which means rescuing people.”–BBC

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