BRUSSELS – European Union leaders pledged Thursday to double the size of the EU's Mediterranean border operation Triton, tripling its budget and offering ships and aircraft to try to halt the migrant deaths.
Triton has four planes, one helicopter and seven ships in the Mediterranean on what is a border management mission, not a search and rescue operation.
While its assets will swell, the scope of the mission will not change anytime soon.
No modifications were made to Triton's mandate — that would be too complicated, EU officials say — nor, for the moment, will its area of operations be expanded toward the Libyan coast, the launching pad for most migrants.
Nonetheless, more ships and planes in the area will increase the likelihood that more lives are saved. More than 10,000 migrants were rescued in just the last week. Almost one thousand are feared dead.
The following is a list of the pledges confirmed by The Associated Press. The length of time the assets will be made available is unclear, and would vary from country to country.
Belgium: One ship.
Britain: One navy flagship with helicopter landing capacity — it would operate in the Mediterranean for two months. Two patrol boats. Three helicopters, probably based in Malta.
France: Two ships, two planes.
Germany: Two ships.
Ireland: One navy ship if Dublin is satisfied with legal arrangements for its use.
Latvia: One patrol boat, one helicopter.
Lithuania: One helicopter.
Non-EU Norway: One large civilian vessel.