EU Leaders Commit Ships, Aid for Action on Migrants

BRUSSELS (AP) -
In this photo made available Thursday migrants crowd an inflatable dinghy as a rescue vessel of the Italian Coast Guard approaches them off the Libyan coast, in the Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, April 22. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP Photo)
In this photo made available Thursday migrants crowd an inflatable dinghy as a rescue vessel of the Italian Coast Guard approaches them off the Libyan coast, in the Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, April 22. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP Photo)

European Union leaders committed extra ships, planes and helicopters to save lives in the Mediterranean at an emergency summit convened Thursday to address a crisis that has left more than 1,300 migrants dead over the past three weeks, and agreed to lay the groundwork for military action against traffickers.

Germany and France pledged two ships each, while Britain committed three to patrol the Mediterranean, and other member states also lined up more vessels and helicopters that could be used to rescue migrants, officials said.

EU member states also agreed to triple funding to 9 million euros ($9.7 million) a month for the EU operation that patrols the Mediterranean.

They assigned EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to line up the diplomatic options that would allow EU militaries to strike against the boats used by traffickers. Officials said the lack of a strong Libyan government would likely make U.N. backing necessary.

French President Francois Hollande said the EU would hold a summit in Malta with African countries by this summer to see how the continents can work together to better deal with a crisis that has grown dramatically in recent years.