Migrants rescued by the Libyan coastguard at sea sit in a naval base near the capital Tripoli on September 29, 2015. (AFP photo)
A British parliamentary report has found that the naval mission by the European Union (EU) to combat human trafficking in the central Mediterranean Sea is failing.
The report by the House of Lords’ sub-committee on EU External Affairs says the mission has only succeeded in forcing smugglers to change their tactics.
The House of Lords report states that the operation has failed to prevent the refugee influx, disrupt the smugglers networks or slow down their business on the Mediterranean route.
“The arrests made to date have been of low-level targets, while the destruction of vessels has simply caused the smugglers to shift from using wooden boats to rubber dinghies, which are even more unsafe,” the report noted.
It says that there are also “significant limits to the intelligence that can be collected about onshore smuggling networks from the high seas”.
“There is therefore little prospect of Operation Sophia overturning the business model of people smuggling,” the document concludes.
The report also urges the EU to urgently develop a strategy aimed at tackling the root causes of mass migration.
EU states have agreed to extend the so-called operation Sophia for another year from June to prevent the influx of refugees into the EU bloc.
Last year the EU authorized its vessels to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for people smuggling in the central Mediterranean.
The number of dead or missing in the Mediterranean in from January to May 2016 reached 1,357, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).