In the seven months it has been operational, the EU’s Mediterranean Sea tasking to rescue boat migrants and apprehend traffickers has seen more than nine thousand people brought safely ashore.
There are current 24 of the 28 EU member states providing air and naval assets. When the operation started last June, 14 EU countries put military assets at the disposal of EU NavFor MED, Operation Sophia commander Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino.
The current fleet is six vessels strong from Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Slovenia and Spain with four air assets, all land-based, from Luxembourg, Spain, Greece and France to support the maritime platforms. The air assets are complemented by three maritime helicopters.
Operation Sophia has also to date seen 48 suspects arrested as possible smugglers and/or traffickers and handed to the Italian Judicial Authorities. Seventy-six boats have also been removed from what a spokesman said was “availability to illegal organisations”.