A UN Security Council resolution which would have authorised EU action against people smugglers within Libyan territory has lost traction and seems more improbable now than it had seemed months ago, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela said.

The EU operation, known as EUNAVFOR (European Union Naval Force), kicked off on June 22, focusing on surveillance and assessment of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the southern central Mediterranean.

The second stage will provide for search and, if necessary, diversion of suspicious vessels.

The Council still needs to assess when to move beyond this first step, taking into account a UN mandate and the consent of the coastal states concerned, Mr Abela said.

Malta has pledged to participate in the mission - in a logistical role - if there is a Council decision.

“My own, personal assessment is that we’re far behind - I don’t know whether a resolution will be reached. There was a time when it seemed that a decision would be reached but this has now lost traction.”

Mr Abela was speaking in a press briefing following yesterday’s EU home affairs meeting in Brussels where the number of migrants originally allocated to Malta by the EU as part of the burden sharing agreement was reduced from 292 to 74.

Some 60 Eritrean and Syrian migrants will be relocated from Italy and Greece while 14 others will be resettled from outside the EU. The relocation and resettlement will be spread over a period of two years. The first group of migrants was not expected not arrive before September.

There was not yet full agreement on the 40,000 migrants to be relocated from Italy and Greece under a plan proposed by the European Commission but countries have so far agreed on the relocation of 32,256 migrants.

The quota for each country had been calculated on the basis of a formula which factored in a country’s GDP, migrant population, population and unemployment.

It was Malta’s low unemployment rate which pushed up Malta’s quota, which has since been revised.


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