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The European Union is beginning a new operation in the southern Mediterranean to intercept boats smuggling migrants.

Under Operation Sophia, naval vessels will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling.

Until now, the EU has focused on surveillance and rescue operations.

So far this year, more than 130,000 migrants and refugees have crossed to Europe from the north African coast.

The huge numbers of migrants reaching Europe have led to a crisis with member states at odds on how to deal with the influx.


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