However, many have argued that military targeting of “smuggling” networks would neither deter nor help refugees, who undergo tremendous hardship and risk their lives in a bid to escape war and poverty. The UN refugee agency recently declared they do not expect the influx of refugees to Europe to slow.
Going further, many observers argue a military response is the polar opposite of the humanitarian response wealthy nations owe refugees. “A whole generation of people are putting themselves in debt to be smuggled into Europe, only to be thrown out,” UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Francois Crepeau told Al Jazeera last month. “That is a really ridiculous transfer of wealth… We can help people by giving them better options.”
The Britain-led resolution is not the only effort underway to ramp up Europe’s military response to the humanitarian crisis. The European Council agreed in May to another plan to escalate military targeting of so-called smugglers, by giving a European maritime force the power to seize vessels. The Council is continuing to press Libya to approve pursuit on their soil.
The proposed military campaigns at sea have been accompanied by parallel efforts on land, with some EU leaders already tightening borders, and Hungary moving forward with a 110-mile razor wire fence to bar refugees from entry—while also bolstering its military at the border.
What’s more, elected leaders across Europe and the world are using the humanitarian crisis to justify military escalation towards Syria, despite warnings that there is no military solution to the hardships refugees endure.