Rome, July 28 (IANS/AKI) The Italian government next week will outline to parliament plans for a naval mission to help Libya’s UN-backed government combat human traffickers in the turmoil-wracked country’s waters, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Thursday.
“We are currently discussing the details of the support mission and will present them on Tuesday at 4 p.m. to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Commissions of the parliament’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate,” he said.
Gentiloni said he was certain the Italian parliament would back the planned mission, requested by Libya’s UN-backed government in a recent letter.
Gentiloni’s office said the Premier chaired a meeting on Thursday “on security, migration and the Libyan situation” with army, police and intelligence chiefs, as well as the Defence, Foreign and Interior Ministers.
Italy is considering deploying a large vessel and at least five smaller ships to patrol Libyan waters, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on Thursday without stating its sources.
Aeroplanes, helicopters and drones would also be used in the operation which could be staffed by between 500 and 1,000 military personnel, the daily said.
Speaking after a meeting in Rome on Wednesday with Gentiloni, Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj admitted Libya needed to do more so its coastguard can fight illegal immigration “and ensure that we have advanced technologies to control our coasts”.
Over half a million migrants and refugees have over the past three years crossed from Libya to Italy, which is eager to stop the human traffickers’ boats setting sail from its former colony, and is already helping train and equip the Libyan coastguard.
Italy is already taking part in the European Union’s Mediterranean naval monitoring mission Sophia operating in international waters against people and oil traffickers.
The EU on Tuesday extended the Sophia mission by a further 18 months until December 31, 2018, despite a damning report in May by Britain’s House of Lords saying it cannot deliver its mandate of smashing the human trafficking networks and preventing deaths in the Mediterranean.
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