EU to convene an emergency summit over migrant crisis

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More than 1,000 migrants crossing into EU picked up in new Mediterranean rescue operations, following deaths of nearly 2,000 this year.

European Union (EU) leaders are expected to meet for an emergency summit to discuss ways on how to deal with the ever increasing numbers of migrants who risk their lives at the Mediterranean sea to get into Europe.

The EU leaders, who decided last year to stop the rescue of migrants, will vote to reverse their decision on Thursday after nearly 2,000 people died at sea this year.

International outrage over the deaths peaked this week after about 800 migrants died last Sunday when their boat sank on its way to Europe from Libya.

The latest tragedy raised the death toll to around 1,800 so far this year, compared to fewer than 100 who died before the end of April last year, when a similar number attempted the journey. More than 21,000 people are estimated to have reached Italy this year.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has called for direct action against people smugglers. He described them as “the slave traders of the 21st Century”.

A draft statement for Thursday’s meeting in Brussels says leaders will commit to “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers”.

It says EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini “is invited to immediately begin preparations for a possible security and defence policy operation to this effect, in accordance with international law”.

A draft statement for Thursday’s meeting in Brussels says leaders will commit to “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers”.

It says EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini “is invited to immediately begin preparations for a possible security and defence policy operation to this effect, in accordance with international law”.

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