EU Suspends Naval Patrols in Libya Migrant Operation
The European Union's mission "Sophia" to curtail migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean will no longer deploy naval ships, in a decision aimed at resolving a dispute with Italy over where rescued asylum-seekers disembark.
Negotiations in Brussels on Tuesday resulted in the operation being granted another six-month mission without the two remaining navy ships in service but with strengthened air surveillance instead, according to news agencies citing unnamed EU sources.
The training of the Libyan coast guard will continue under the scaled-down program, reported DW.
Unless EU member states disagree with the suspension by Wednesday, the revised mission will continue from April 1.
Who will take in rescued migrants?
Operation Sophia was given an interim extension of three months in December last year after EU member states could not agree on a longer commitment.
Rome had been arguing hard against the policy of automatically bringing all people rescued at sea to Italian ports with threats of blocking the mission if the rules of engagement weren't changed. It challenged other states to take in more arrivals.
At the same time, other member states have been refusing to take in migrants that don't first arrive on EU territory at their borders.
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