French President Asks UN to Authorize Destruction of Libyan Smuggler Boats

AP Photo/Francesco Pecoraro

Following the European Union’s emergency summit on the Libyan refugee crisis, French President Francois Hollande announced he would seek a United Nations resolution authorizing the destruction of smuggling vessels.

“We will look at all the options for seeking out and destroying these boats. … That can only be done under a UN resolution (on which) France will take the initiative with others,” said Hollande, as quoted by AFP.

It is not entirely clear how far this effort to destroy smuggling boats would go. Hollande is not talking about blowing them out of the water while they are wallowing across the Mediterranean filled with refugees. Destroying these boats after they have been cleared off, and their owners have been placed under arrest, has been suggested as an alternative to the current practice of leaving the boats adrift, as they are usually recovered and used again by smugglers. (In fact, this suggestion was actually made by smuggler in a media interview earlier this week.)

The Europeans might have something a bit more aggressive in mind. The draft statement from the summit discussed taking the smuggling boats out while they are docked in Libya, with the UK Guardian quoting sources commending Apache helicopter gunships for the job.