The EU Naval Force operation targeting migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Mediterranean Sea has been extended to December 31 next year, the second such extension approved by the EU.
In addition to “disrupting the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers the operation also provides training to the Libya Coastguard and Navy and assist with implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas of the coast of Libya”, an EU statement said.
Announcing the renewal, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said: “Two years ago, European Union member states decided unanimously to tackle together one of the most despicable crimes of our times – the trafficking of human beings – by establishing EUNAVFOR Med – Operation Sophia. Many suspected smugglers have been apprehended and many lives saved in the Mediterranean Sea. Since last year women and men serving under the European flag have been also training the Libyan Coastguard and enforcing the arms embargo on the high seas off the coasts of Libya”.
“I’m proud to announce the mandate of Operation Sophia has been unanimously renewed and again with additional tasks,” Mogherini added.
The 28 EU Member States also amended the mandate of the operation to set up a mechanism monitoring the training of the Libyan Coastguard; conduct new surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya, as well as enhance information sharing on human trafficking with member states’ law enforcement agencies, FRONTEX and EUROPOL.
“As a matter of priority, we will start in the coming days the revision of the operational plan in order to include the new tasks, such as the mechanism for monitoring the Libyan Coastguard and Navy activities post training, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the mission and the shared responsibility among member states,” she said.