The EU naval force tasked with ending human smuggling and trafficking operations in the Mediterranean has a specific operation names – Sophia – for what is termed the active phase of the operation.
The name is in honour of a baby christened Sophia who was born on a EUNavFor Med ship after her mother was rescue on August 22.
The active phase will see vessels boarded, searched, seized and diverted in line with international law and per the EU directive to “disrupt” the business plan of those involved in human smuggling and trafficking.
Operation commander Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino judged the transition to phase two in terms of the assets provided by EU member states.
At present 22 member states including Belgium, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom have pledged assets. These currently include eight surface and sub-surface vessels and 12 air assets including helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft as well as specialist troop in addition to aircrews and ships’ companies.
Federica Mogherini, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said the decision to go active “takes the operation from its intelligence gathering phase to its operational and active phase against human smugglers on the high seas.
“The EU has proven its capacity to act in a swift and united manner. We are also united in our diplomatic efforts to find both a political solution to the crises in Syria and Libya and, in partnership with the countries of origin and transition of the migration flows, to support the economic and social development of these countries.”