U.N. to vote on EU migrant smugglers

Migrants arrive in an overloaded rubber dinghy at the coast near Skala Sikaminias, Lesbos island. (AP)

The United Nations Security Council is due to vote on Friday on whether to approve European naval operations aimed at seizing and disposing of vessels operated by human traffickers in the high seas off Libya, diplomats said.

Russia, which has Security Council veto power, had indicated it supported the draft resolution, but it was unclear how Moscow would vote, said diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.N. resolution would approve the second of three phases of a European Union naval mission intended to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe, which has escalated into a major international crisis in recent months.

The third phase of the EU mission, which is not covered by the draft U.N. resolution, would involve European operations in Libyan territorial waters and coastal areas.

Libya initially objected to the draft U.N. resolution on the high seas mission, but Libya's U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi wrote to the Security Council on Tuesday that the country's concerns had been allayed and it agreed to the final draft text.

Libya has since descended into chaos with two competing governments backed by militias scrambling for control of the oil-producing country. A power vacuum has allowed ISIS militants to gain a foothold in the North African state.

The International Organization for Migration, which includes 157 member states, said this week some 557,899 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe across the Mediterranean, and nearly 3,000 people have died attempting the crossing.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48