NATO is planning a naval blockade of the Libyan coat this summer to close off the central Mediterranean migration route, as the numbers of migrants using the route, which features Malta as a central point, are expected to surge.
The military alliance is reportedly just three months away from launching the mission, according to Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, who revealed the plans as the leaders of the US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy met in Hanover, Germany yesterday.
The Libya mission will be up for final approval by NATO leaders at a Warsaw summit scheduled for 7 July, Pinotti said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa.
The blockade will be based on a current NATO mission underway between Turkey and Greece.
The plan will also incorporate parts of a broader Italian strategy to repatriate migrants found to have no claim for asylum, in other words, purely economic migrants, back to their home countries.