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Tunisian PM Speaks Against EU Military Action to Stop Refugee Smugglers

© AFP 2022 / MAHMUD TURKIASub-Saharan African migrants are rescued by the Libyan coastguard after their inflatable boat started to sink off the coastal town of Guarabouli. File photo
Sub-Saharan African migrants are rescued by the Libyan coastguard after their inflatable boat started to sink off the coastal town of Guarabouli. File photo - Sputnik International
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The EU seeks a UN mandate to use their military to destroy vessels suspected of being used by criminal networks to smuggle refugees.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Tunisia opposes any military effort by the EU to tackle refugee smuggling across the Mediterranean Sea, Prime Minister Habib Essid said Thursday.

“Tunisia’s position was always clear…We are originally against all military action, both to regulate political conflict and to regulate the problem with illegal smugglers,” Essid said in the European Parliament.

In recent years, the European Union has been struggling with an influx of undocumented migrants fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

Migrants wait to disembark from the Iceland Coast Guard vessel Tyr, at the Messina harbor, Sicily, southern Italy - Sputnik International
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Over 1,800 people have drowned trying to reach European shores earlier this year, and the European Union, as a partial response, inaugurated a naval mission to combat human traffickers operating in the sea. The bloc seeks a UN mandate to use their military to destroy vessels suspected of being used by criminal networks to smuggle refugees.

Earlier this month, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the 28-nation bloc did not consider bombing, foreseeing only a naval operation. Leaked documents, however, showed that EU strategy includes an aerial campaign, as well as deployment of ground forces in Libya, a major hub for smugglers.

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