EU Launches Second Stage of Naval Operation Against Human Smugglers

EU | October 7, 2015, Wednesday // 09:54|  views

The European Union (EU) is expected to launch the first step of the second stage of its naval operation EUNAVFOR Med against human smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday.

The operation, which will be renamed to Sophia, has the mandate to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking in the high seas in line with international law.

The operation will move from its intelligence-gathering phase to its operational and active phase against human smugglers.

The Political and Security Committee agreed that the operation should be renamed Sophia after the name given to the baby born on the ship of the operation which rescued her mother off the Libyan coast on August 22.

The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and to prevent further deaths at sea.

It is part of the wider EU approach to migration, which addresses both the symptoms and root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution.

Operation Commander Read Admiral Enrico Credendino assessed the transition to the new stage possible after the member states had provided the resources needed for the more active phase.

Until now the EU has focused on surveillance, rescue operations and monitoring trafficking patterns from Libya to Italy and Malta., the BBC informs.

However the mandate of Sophia is limited to international waters, meaning that the warships will have to stay 12 nautical miles from the coast of Libya.

The EU hopes that it will move to a third, more aggressive stage, which would operate within the territorial waters of Libya, but this will be possible only with the approval of either the UN Security Council or Tripoli.

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Tags: EU, EUNAVFOR MED, smuggling, trafficking, Sophia, Migration, Mediterranean, Libya


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