The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to authorize for another year the inspection of vessels off the coast of Libya suspected of smuggling migrants or engaging in human trafficking from the North African nation.
The resolution reaffirms the need to end the proliferation of smuggling operations in the Mediterranean Sea, which U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his latest report remains “among the deadliest routes for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe.”
According to the U.N. chief’s report circulated Thursday, in the year ending September. 2, the U.N. refugee office and the International Organization for Migration estimated 1,751 refugees and migrants lost their lives or went missing in the Mediterranean — more than 1,344 on the central crossing. That was down from 2,192 the previous year, it said.
The measure also “condemns all acts of migrant smuggling and human trafficking into, through and from the Libyan territory and off the coast of Libya, which undermines further the process of stabilization of Libya and endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”
Libya, which descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has emerged as a major transit point for African and Arab migrants seeking to reach Europe as a way to escape war and poverty. Most migrants make the perilous journey in ill-equipped and unsafe rubber boats.