David Cameron told his European Union counterparts at a summit in Brussels that he wanted to ramp up efforts in central Mediterranean Sea to stem the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe.
Downing Street sources have revealed that British warships could be used to turn back boats carrying migrants close to the Libyan coastline.
PM: We're talking about busting the business model of people smugglers, breaking the link between getting in a boat & settlement in Europe.— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) March 17, 2016
The mission would include extending the current EU naval force, with more British ships deployed in "territorial and internal" waters, within "several kilometers off the Libyan coastline", a UK government source said.
Send Them Back
The EU naval mission Operation Sophia has detained 90 vessels and 53 suspected people smugglers have been arrested; but the mission can only operate in international, not Libyan waters.
"We think Operation Sophia has achieved a lot in terms of bringing the numbers down…but one of the challenges the operation has is that it is still only operating on the high seas," a government source said.
"He [Cameron] thinks we should be looking to return people to where they set off from," according to a government source.
And that place would be Libya — an oil-rich North African country, where a civil war between the official government in the east and an Islamist backed government based in Tripoli continues to rage.
The UN is trying to broker a deal for a unity government and bring peace to the country after it fell apart following the NATO invasion in 2011 and the death of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
David Cameron recently admitted that it was in Britain’s interest to see the formation of a unity government.
"Libya right now is a people smuggling route, that is bad for us and bad for the rest of Europe and the growth of Daesh is bad for us and bad for the rest of Europe."
However, it appears that Britain’s Prime Minister believes it is okay to send people already fleeing war back to the conflict zone in order to stem the flow of migrants into Europe.