Migrant vessels in Mediterranean to be targeted by EU forces

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A refugee lies face down on the stony ground with his hands over his face after reaching shore, near the village of Skala Eressos, on the island of Lesbos, in the North Aegean region of Greece. Photo: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

Forces of the European Union (EU) have been given the go-ahead by the UN Security Council to intercept and seize vessels operated by people smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea.

The UN says some 7,000 migrants are arriving each day on the Greek coastline alone.

Many are fleeing persecution and conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean has soared from 219,000 in the whole of 2014 to more than 300,000 so far this year.

The UN estimates that some 2,500 people have died or gone missing while attempting the crossing to Europe in 2015.

On Friday the UN Security Council voted to allow EU forces to seize illegal migrant vessels off the coast of Libya.

Matthew Rycroft, the United Kingdom Ambassador to the UN, spoke after the Council meeting.

'The Security Council has authorized those EU forces to interdict migrant smugglers operating on the high seas; to inspect their vessels to seize them and put them beyond use. These groups have no respect for human life. They exploit those taking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Any smugglers stopped will be detained and their boats will be seized."

Fourteen members of the 15-nation Security Council voted for the action.

Venezuela abstained.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1’07″

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