Libya opposes EU proposal for military action against human traffickers

The Libyan ambassador to the UN said that the EU's intentions were unclear and "very worrying".

Libya has criticised EU proposals to authorise the use of force against people smugglers taking migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.

The Libyan ambassador to the UN said that the EU's intentions were unclear and "very worrying".

The EU is seeking a UN mandate to allow military action to destroy or halt smugglers' boats in Libyan waters. The measures are part of the EU's proposed plans to stop migrants drowning in the Mediterranean.

The UN estimates that 60,000 people have already tried to cross the Mediterranean this year. More than 1,800 people are feared to have died making the journey in 2015 - a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is taking her case for international intervention in Libya to the UN Security Council in New York later on Monday.

The EU has proposed "systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers".

Diplomats are thought to be drafting a UN Security Council resolution that would allow EU vessels to conduct operations against smugglers in Libyan waters, under chapter seven of the UN charter that authorises the use of force to maintain international peace.

However, Libya's ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told the BBC that his country was against the proposal.

"The Libyan government has not been consulted by the European Union. They have left us in the dark about what their intentions are, what kind of military actions they are going to take in our territorial waters, so that is very worrying," he told the World Service's Newsday programme.

"We want to know... how they can distinguish between the fishers' boats and the traffickers' boats," he added.

Rights group Amnesty International has warned that military action could leave migrants trapped in Libya in desperate conditions.

"Introducing measures to tackle smugglers without providing safe alternative routes... will not resolve the plight of migrants and refugees," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther.

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