Britain is to send another warship to the Mediterranean to target arms traffickers in Libya.
David Cameron told the G7 summit in Japan the UK was ready to take an “active leadership role” in helping the North African country combat people trafficking.
The UK already has one ship operating in the area, HMS Enterprise. In June 2015 Enterprise replaced HMS Bulwark in the mission to rescue migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.
For Britain to send an additional vessel the EU must agree to extend the mandate of Operation Sophia, British officials have said they would seek United Nations approval so that the new ship can intercept boats suspects of smuggling arms to Islamic State militants in Libya.
A Number 10 spokesman said:
“Once the relevant UN security resolutions are in place, we intend to deploy a navy warship to the region to assist in the interception of arms and human smuggling.”
The aim of this new operation launched by Europe is to undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels as well as enabling assets used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers. The Juncker Commission, in particular the HR Federica Mogherini, views this operation as a fundamental contribution to fighting instability in the region and as a way to reduce the loss of lives at sea and increase the security of European citizens.
More than 13,000 migrants have been rescued from the sea in the course of the operation.