UK role in Med rescue mission unclear as HMS Bulwark due to pull out

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UK Ministry of Defence


BRITISH Navy ship HMS Bulwark is due to end its deployment in the Mediterranean in three weeks, where it has been part of the EU’s response to the migration crisis that has already seen thousands die this year attempting to reach European shores.
The Bulwark’s search and rescue role was announced by David Cameron in the midst of the general election campaign, and the Ministry of Defence has confirmed to the Guardian newspaper that the initial agreement was for a 60-day mission, due to finish on July 5. However, the MoD spokesperson added that that date was not carved in stone, and “all options” were being considered.
The Bulwark was reported to have rescued 2,700 people from the sea from the beginning of its deployment to June 7.
The number of people trying to cross the Mediterranean is expected to peak in the next month as the weather settles down for summer, just at the point where Britain’s involvement becomes unclear.
Meanwhile Home Secretary Theresa May attended an EU meeting today (June 16) where it was expected she would confirm the British government’s opposition to proposals to relocate 40,000 of the people who have arrived in Italy and Greece and claimed asylum, to other European countries.
The Italian Prime Minister has said this week there could be “no national selfishness and no closing of the eyes,” adding, “If Europe wants to be Europe, it must tackle this problem collectively.”
Britain instead favours a military response, Cameron telling parliament that the people perishing in the Med had been “tricked and fooled by criminal gangs.” “Our role should be going after those criminal gangs,” he said, “sorting out the situation in Libya, turning back the boats where we can and using our generous aid budget to mend the countries from which these people are coming.”


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