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EU Leaders Squabble as UN Approval Still Needed to Destroy Smugglers' Ships

© AP PhotoOfficers of the Irish Navy ship Le Eithne rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
Officers of the Irish Navy ship Le Eithne rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. - Sputnik International
A new report by Human Rights Watch, 'The Mediterranean Migration Crisis: Why People Flee, What the EU Should Do' declares the Mediterranean as the world's deadliest migration route. Twenty-two thousand people are estimated to have died attempting the journey, according to the International Organization for Migration.

"You see them pump up the boat, put one hundred people on it, and you know it's risky."

Livinus, a 20 year old migrant, originally from Nigeria and currently in Lampedusa, Italy told Human Rights Watch what he saw the Libyan people smugglers do, adding that: "I wouldn't have taken that risk except for the problems in Libya."

Another young Nigerian man, Johnny said:

"I would have stayed in Libya but every day it gets worse. They treat us like animals. A friend of mine was shot by a ten-year-old. They are killing people there, so I decided to try for rescue by Italy."

Meanwhile, European Union efforts to step up search and rescue efforts have been branded "belated" by Human Rights Watch. And European Union leaders have been accused of putting borders before people with many EU member states refusing to adopt a quota system for resettling rescued refugees by Brussels, leaving Italy, Greece and Malta to pick up the pieces.

But as the numbers of migrants increase — so do the tensions of the EU leaders.

Switzerland has threatened to close its borders to migrants; France has closed its border with Italy, and a decision by the French authorities to spend $568,445 (€500,000) improving the conditions of a migrant camp at the port of Calais has antagonized the British authorities.

However, all EU leaders are claiming that they want to address the root cause of the Mediterranean Sea migrant crisis — but are still squabbling as to who should take responsibility for it. 

Italian Financial Police rescue unit approaches an inflatable dinghy crowded with migrants off the Libyan coast, in the Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - Sputnik International
EU Prepares 5 Ships, 2 Subs for Anti-Smuggler Mission in Mediterranean

Recently, Italian police forcibly removed migrants from Italy's border with France after French border police refused them entry into the country. The French Interior Ministry also ramped up and reinforced its borders to stop any illegal immigrants or asylum seekers from entering the country.

According to Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, Norman Gobbi, head of the cantonal government of Ticino warned that "if the influx of refugees from Italy continues, we will have to temporarily close the border."

"It is the only way for Switzerland to put pressure on other countries that do not respect their obligations."

Gobbi suggested that the increase in migrants from the Italian border came following France's decision to close its own border to Italian asylum seekers and refugees.

And it's not just the Swiss and Italian authorities that France has been antagonizing. The European country has been criticized for spending thousands of euros on making a port of Calais migrant camp permanent, by providing running water and electricity. The so-called 'Jungle 2' camp in Calais is the penultimate destination for migrants desperate to cross the English Channel into Britain.

© REUTERS / Pascal RossignolA migrant shaves outside his tent set-up in the woods referred to as "the jungle", in Calais.
A migrant shaves outside his tent set-up in the woods referred to as the jungle, in Calais. - Sputnik International
A migrant shaves outside his tent set-up in the woods referred to as "the jungle", in Calais.

The controversial 'Jungle 2' camp is home to 3,000 migrants, predominantly from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, who live there waiting for an opportunity to illegally cross the English Channel hidden in a lorry, which is then loaded onto a ferry.

According to France Info, a supermarket located near the Calais camp, "is a place where all Afghan migrants arrive to try to board trucks to England". It says migrants pay up to $1137 (€1000) in an attempt to board a truck bound for Britain, but for a driver working as an accomplice, the cost can be as much as $5685 (€5000).

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told Corriere della Sera newspaper that the EU must change its rules, stipulating that refugees must apply for asylum in the first European country they enter. Renzi insists that the political crisis in Libya, the country where 90 percent of the migrants depart from, is "Europe's responsibility, in light of the intervention four years ago" by NATO, in a bid to oust Muammar Gaddafi. 

UN Special Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon - Sputnik International
You Break It, You Buy It: UN, NATO Finally Attempt to Fix Libya Mess

And amid the bickering and squabbling, EU leaders are still planning to press ahead with a naval operation to seize smugglers' ships on international waters — however, the plans haven't yet been approved by the UN.

'The Mediterranean Migration Crisis: Why People Flee, What the EU Should Do' report, says: "The internationally recognized government in Libya has said it opposes EU action in its territory or territorial waters.

"EU vessels participating in the planned naval operation are subject to the jurisdiction of the ECHR, which requires designing, planning, and implementing all operations with full respect for rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and security, an effective remedy, and the prohibition of torture.

"Operations should ensure that the lives and safety of migrants and asylum seekers are not put at risk."

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