EU plan for military intervention against refugees, says Wikileaks

WikiLeaks, the secret information publisher, has released two classified EU documents, that outline the planned military intervention against refugee boats travelling from Libya to Italy. The more significant of the two documents was written by the combined military defence chiefs of the EU member states. And the plan was formally approved by representatives from all 28 countries, on 18 May 2015.

Importantly, one of the documents acknowledges that the political 'End State' of the military intervention, is not clearly defined and recommends that the European Commission issue further guidance. The documents lay out a military operation against cross-Mediterranean refugee transport networks and infrastructure. It details plans to conduct military operations to destroy boats used for transporting migrants and refugees in Libyan territory.

The objective of this decision is to prevent the refugees from reaching Europe. However, the EU member states' military chiefs advice is that there is a need to draw on the full range of surveillance, intelligence, and information capabilities available to EU member states and partners, a decision supported by Brussels' inter alliance European External Action Service's Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC).

The plan also acknowledges the possibility of EU military use of force against groups such as ISIL, within the Libyan sovereign area. The documents mark a departure from previous EU military strategy in its overt targeting of civilian infrastructure in Libya. Many EU countries, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK, participated in NATO-led air strikes on Libya in 2011.

However, human rights organisations have called on the EU not to put the lives of refugees and migrants at risk. The plan acknowledges that the EU risks negative publicity should loss of life be attributed, correctly or incorrectly, to action or inaction by the EU force. To manage this reputational risk, the documents recommend an EU information strategy from the outset in order to facilitate expectation management.

Boats transporting people from Libya are the main means for refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, to reach safety in Europe. Since the destruction of the Libyan government in 2011, there's been a sharp increase in the numbers of refugees travelling to Europe from Libya. In 2014, more than 170,000 people are estimated to have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya, making up 60% of refugee migration into EU.