EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has pleaded for UN help to dismantle criminal groups smuggling migrants into the European Union.
"We need to count on your support to save lives," she told a Security Council briefing on EU plans to use force against smugglers.
Libya, where many smugglers operate, has objected to the EU proposals.
More than 1,800 people are feared to have died this way in 2015 – a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.
Some 60,000 people have already tried to cross the Mediterranean this year, the UN estimates.
Many of the migrants are fleeing conflict or poverty in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia.
'No-one sent back against will'
Speaking in New York on Monday, Ms Mogherini said the EU's first priority was to "save lives and prevent further loss of lives at sea".
She outlined proposals agreed by EU governments last month. These include:
reinforcing search and rescue efforts
tripling financial resources for this purpose over the next two years
disrupting smuggling networks and bringing the perpetrators to justice
efforts to identify, capture and destroy their vessels
The EU must seek UN approval in order to establish a clear legal basis for any military operation in Libyan territorial waters.
Diplomats from Italy, the UK, France, Lithuania and Spain are drafting a UN Security Council resolution under chapter seven of the UN charter that authorises the use of force to maintain international peace.
It is as yet unclear what shape military action could take.
Earlier, the Libyan ambassador to the UN told the BBC that the EU's intentions were unclear and that the Libyan government had not yet been consulted.
Ms Mogherini told UN representatives on Monday that an "exceptional response" was needed to deal with the "unprecedented" migrant flow.
But she said the situation was likely to continue as long as Libya lacked a government had authority across the country.
"No refugees or migrants intercepted at sea will be sent back against their will," she added.
Military approach criticised
Ms Mogherini travelled to Beijing last week to try to build support for a draft resolution, amid concerns that China and Russia would veto the proposal to use military force.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has cautioned against a military solution, warning that it could harm the livelihoods of Libyan fishermen.
Rights group Amnesty International, meanwhile, has cautioned that military action could leave migrants trapped in Libya in desperate conditions.
Without allowing safe alternative routes, the new EU measures "will not resolve the plight of migrants and refugees," the group said in a new report.
On Wednesday, the EU is also expected to propose a quota system for distributing asylum seekers between EU members, along with plans to increase legal means for migrants to come to Europe so that they do not turn to smugglers.
Countries most affected by the crisis, including Italy, Malta, Austria and Greece, are urging EU members to share the responsibility for migrants more evenly.
A quota system would need to be agreed by EU states and is highly controversial, with many countries fiercely opposed.
While Germany and France support the idea, leaders in the UK, Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia have voiced their objections.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.