UN extends mandate to search ships off Libya for migrants

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to extend for a year the authorization for U.N. member nations to search vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya if there are reasonable suspicions they are being used to smuggle migrants or for human trafficking.

The British-drafted resolution approved Thursday condemns such acts, saying they undermine efforts to stabilize the North African country “and endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”

The European Union's Operation Sophia had been the only regional naval operation carrying out inspections, but Italy’s previous populist government suspended deployment of ships, saying in March it would instead send more planes to monitor the area. Last week, the EU extended Operation Sophia’s mandate until March 31, still using only planes.