The European Council has extended by one year, the mandate of its naval operation aimed at combating human smugglers and traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean.
It also expanded the remit of the operation to to include training of Libyan coastguards and navy and countering illegal arms trade.
The information was contained in a press release on its website, which read in parts that; On 20 June 2016, the Council extended until 27 July 2017 the mandate of the EUNAFOR MED Operation Sophia, the EU naval operation to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean.’‘
A more secure and stable Libya will reduce illicit traffics and thereby contribute to the overall efforts for the disruption of human trafficking and smuggling networks.
‘‘The Council also reinforced the operation’s mandate by adding two supporting tasks: training of the Libyan coastguards and navy and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya,’‘ the statement added.
The council noted that the need to train the Libyan coastguards and the navy was based on a request by the legitimate authorities in the restive north African country. The further stated that a more secured Libya was crucial to combating the illicit trade in arms.
‘‘A more secure and stable Libya will reduce illicit traffics and thereby contribute to the overall efforts for the disruption of human trafficking and smuggling networks,’‘ the Council’s statement added.
About the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia
- EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia was launched on 22 June 2015.
- The operation entered its active phase in October 2015
- It enables the identification, capture and disposal of vessels used or suspected of being used by migrants’ smugglers or traffickers.
- The operation has contributed to the arrest and transfer to the Italian authorities of 71 suspected smugglers and traffickers and neutralized 139 vessels.
- It has helped save an estimated 16,000 lives.
- The Operation Commander is Italian Rear Admiral Credendino.
- The headquarters of the operation is located in Rome.