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    Illegal migrants sit in a coastal police base in Tripoli March 13, 2015

    EU Must Offer Aid, Avoid Military Campaign to Stem Migrant Tide

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    A leading human smuggler in Libya said Tuesday that the European Union's plans to launch a military operation to end migrant trafficking are mere words and suggested that the bloc instead provide aid for ethnic minorities in Africa.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) On Monday, one day after a boat reported to be carrying up to 800 migrants from Libya sank in the Mediterranean, the European Union unveiled a plan to launch a "civil-military" operation against Libyan smugglers responsible for the deaths of thousands of migrants.

    "What are they going to do, put two frigates here? Two warships? In Libyan waters? That's an invasion," the smuggler, who asked to be known as Hajj, told the Guardian, adding that the European Union should instead help the Amazigh minority living on the Libyan coast.

    According to Hajj, the Amazigh, an ethnic group of which he is a member, has been suffering from oppression for years and has few ways of making a living except for participating in migrant smuggling to Europe. He admitted that help from the European Union would not persuade every smuggler to exit what he described as a profitable business.

    The smuggler suggested that the European Union provide local coastguards in Libya with better tools to combat migrant trafficking and destroy salvaged boats that have been used by migrants, instead of leaving them adrift where they end up being reused.

    Hajj asked for an increase in efforts to put an end to the civil war in Libya, asserting that a good life in a safe home country will limit the amount of people who want to leave it.

    The European Union will not proceed with any effective action, he states. He points out it is not the first time bloc leaders have pledged to deal with Africa-to-Europe-via-the-Mediterranean migration.

    "Last year the same thing happened when these tragedies occurred. Human rights people came out and started talking, and politicians met, and said they'd take action. But nothing happened. It'll be the same thing," Hajj said.

    The Mediterranean Sea is a primary route for migrants fleeing conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. The United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 people have crossed in 2014 and some 3,500 died in the attempt.

    Libya has been engulfed in civil wars since the ousting of the country's long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country is also facing an increased influence of extremist groups, including those affiliated with the Islamic State.

    Related:

    Mediterranean Migrants Death Toll Could Reach 30,000 by End 2015 – NGO
    EU Needs Joint Rescue Mission for Migrants to Prevent New Tragedies
    More Migrants Drown in Mediterranean as EU Officials Meet to Discuss Issue
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    refugees, migrants, Libya, Mediterranean Sea
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