Operation Irini seizes armoured vehicles bound for Libya

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The European Union Naval Force’s Operation Irini has seized dozens of BATT UMG armoured vehicles destined for Libya in violation of United Nations sanctions.

At least 28 BATT UMGs, manufactured by the United Arab Emirates’ The Armoured Group, were being transported by the MV Meerdijk to Libya when the merchant vessel was inspected by Irini forces on 11 October.

“The ship was found to be transporting vehicles modified for military use to Libya suspected to be in breach of the UN arms embargo,” Operation Irini said in a press release.

“One of the European military vessels operating in the Central Mediterranean Sea for Operation Irini detected the ship on its way to Libya. Upon Operation Irini’s request, in accordance with UNSCR 2292, the Netherlands, as the ship’s flag state, gave its consent without delay for the inspection and, on 11 October, a boarding team was sent on board to verify the nature of those vehicles,” the press release detailed.

“The boarding team discovered dozens of military vehicles shipped in possible violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya. In line with the Operation’s mandate, the vehicles were seized and the ship was diverted to a European port for further inspection. Following the inspection by the UN Panel of Experts, the vehicles were disembarked and stored ashore.”

This is the second time Irini has seized a cargo in implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2292 (2016) in less than three months. In July, Italian Navy frigate ITS Grecale (F571) inspected the cargo vessel MV Victory Roro (previously MV Luccello) after she was located by a French maritime patrol aircraft, and this brought to light “dozens of vehicles designed or modified for military use and assessed to be in violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya”. Operation Irini seized the vehicles violating the arms embargo and diverted the ship to a European port for further proceedings.

Victory Roro, flying the Equatorial Guinea flag and under her previous name, was identified by a UN panel of experts on Libya as delivering military vehicles to the north African country in March.

Since March 2020, Operation Irini has carried out 25 inspections at sea in accordance with all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions authorising the inspection, the diversion and the seizure of the cargo of arms and related material when found on board of merchant vessel heading for Libya.