EU Naval Force Med Operation Sophia starting Libyan training


The European Union Naval Force Med’s Operation Sophia has been authorised to start training the Libyan Coast Guard and navy and enforce the UN arms embargo off the Libyan coast.

Authorisation, by the Political and Security Committee, was granted on 30 August.
“This EU naval operation aims to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. The Council decided on 20 June 2016 to add these two supporting tasks to the operation’s mandate,” the EU Commission said.

After checking that the necessary conditions have been met, the EU ambassadors meeting within the Political and Security Committee decided on 30 August to authorise the beginning of the new tasks.
“The legitimate Libyan authorities requested support in capacity building and training of their coastguard and navy. The objective is to enhance their capability to disrupt smuggling and trafficking in Libya and to perform search and rescue activities which will save lives and improve security in the Libyan territorial waters. This task will be financed through voluntary contributions from some EU member states managed by the Athena mechanism.
“A more secure and stable Libya will contribute to the overall efforts to disrupt human trafficking and smuggling networks. On the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2292 (2016), the operation will contribute to information sharing and support the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. This will increase the overall level of awareness of the maritime situation and limit arms flows to Da’esh and other terrorist groups,” the EU Commission said.

EU Navfor Med Operation Sophia was launched on 22 June 2015. The operation entered its active phase in October 2015. This phase provides for the identification, capture and disposal of vessels used or suspected of being used by migrants’ smugglers or traffickers. Since then, the operation has contributed to the arrest and transfer to the Italian authorities of 87 suspected smugglers and traffickers and neutralised more than 255 vessels. In addition, the operation has saved more than 22 000 lives and has supported other organisations in the rescue of more than 36 000 persons.

The Operation Commander is Rear Admiral Credendino, from Italy. The headquarters of the operation are located in Rome.