EU and UK’s joined naval mission trying to stop the people smuggling has failed its main objective.
12 Jul 2017 – BBC
Operation Sophia, which the UK supports, appears to have done little to deter migration and its mandate should not be renewed, peers said.
However, they said search and rescue work in the Mediterranean had saved many lives and should continue.
The government said UK ships had led to “fewer children drowning”.
Operation Sophia, an initiative undertaken by 25 EU member states, including the UK, was launched in 2015 in the wake of disasters in which hundreds of migrants drowned attempting to reach Europe.
Its aim was to help disrupt organised criminals involved in human smuggling and trafficking networks in the southern central Mediterranean.
But in 2016, detections of migrants in the central Mediterranean were at their highest point yet, the EU External Affairs sub-committee found.
Some 181,436 people arrived in Europe by this route – an increase of 18% on 2015 when the figure was 153,842.
An unintended consequence of the destruction of smugglers’ boats has been that they are now sending migrants to sea in unseaworthy vessels, resulting in more deaths at sea, the committee said.
Baroness Verma, chairman of the committee, said a naval mission was the wrong tool for tackling people smuggling because it begins onshore.
And she said that while Operation Sophia had failed in its main objective, it had been a “humanitarian success”.
She added: “Future UK and EU action should focus on tackling people smuggling in source and transit countries, and supporting sustainable economic development and good governance in these countries.