EU Prolongs Anti-Smugglers Operation in Mediterranean
The foreign ministers of the EU member states agreed on Monday to extend the mandate of EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia by another year and to add two more tasks to its mandate.
The mandate of the operation was extended until 27 July 2017 and enhanced by adding the tasks of training Libyan coastguards and navy and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.
The naval operation Sophia was launched in June last year, with its aim being to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and traffickers operating in the Southern Central Mediterranean Sea.
The operation entered its active phase in October 2015, enabling the EU to identify, capture and dispose of vessels used or suspected of being used by migrants' smugglers or traffickers.
Since then, 71 suspected smugglers have been arrested and handed to Italian authorities and 139 vessels have been neutralised. The operation also helped saving nearly 16 000 lives.
At the meeting of the Foreign Affairs council in Luxembourg on Monday, the ministers also supported the initiative of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to initiate a trilateral dialogue between Libya, Niger and Chad on joint border management of the southern border of Libya.
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