Italy to send ships to aid Libya pa­trols

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

MI­LAN — Italy on Fri­day ap­proved send­ing Ital­ian naval ships to help the Libyan coast guard curb mi­grant traf­fick­ing in re­sponse to a re­quest by the North African na­tion.

The mea­sure is part of ef­forts to stanch the flow of hun­dreds of thou­sands of mi­grants who are smug­gled out of Libya across the Mediter­ranean Sea to Europe each year by traf­fick­ers us­ing un­sea­wor­thy boats.

Pre­mier Paolo Gen­tiloni, who is un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to man­age mi­grant ar­rivals in Italy af­ter be­ing res­cued at sea, said the ini­tia­tive to help Libya pa­trol its shores “can give a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to re­in­forc­ing Libyan sovereignty. It is not an op­er­a­tion that we take against Libya sovereignty.”

De­tails about the op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing the rules of en­gage­ment, were not dis­closed af­ter the Cabi­net’s ap­proval, but Gen­tiloni said Italy would “not be send­ing a huge fleet or air squadrons.”

Hu­man Rights Watch warned, how­ever, that the Ital­ian ac­tion could amount to a naval block­ade that “could ex­pose mi­grants and asy­lum seek­ers to even greater abuse.”

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