EU begins the seizure of smuggling vessels

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A new operation by the EU is undertaking the interception of boats in the southern Mediterranean that are smuggling migrants.

Operation Sophia sees naval vessels given the power to board, search, seize and divert vessels under suspicion of being used for human smuggling.

Previously the EU had focussed its efforts on surveillance and rescue operations.

Since the beginning of the year over 130,000 migrants and refugees have made the journey to Europe from the North African coast and more than 2,700 have drowned en route.

The number of deaths at sea has meant that many more migrants and refugees are changing their tactics and crossing overland into Turkey, before travelling by to Greece by sea. They then focus on reaching the central and northern European countries, with Germany the preferred destination.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are expected to present the migrant crisis as one of the top issues as they undertake a joint venture in addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Photo credit- Irish Defence Forces

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