25.07 2017. Brussels. The Council extended the mandate of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 31 December 2018. EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia is the EU naval operation disrupting the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. The operation has two supporting tasks: training the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016) and 2357 (2017).
The Council also amended the operation’s mandate to:
- set up a monitoring mechanism of trainees to ensure the long-term efficiency of the training of the Libyan Coastguard;
- conduct new surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2146 (2014) and 2362 (2017);
- enhance the possibilities for sharing information on human trafficking with member states’ law enforcement agencies, FRONTEX and EUROPOL.
“Two years ago, the European Union’s member states decided unanimously to tackle together one of the most despicable crimes of our times – the trafficking of human beings – by establishing EUNAVFOR Med – Operation Sophia. Many suspected smugglers have been apprehended and many lives saved in the Mediterranean Sea, and since last year our women and men serving under the European flag have been also training the Libyan Coastguard and enforcing the arms embargo on the high seas off the coasts of Libya. Today, I’m particularly proud to announce that the mandate of Operation Sophia has been unanimously renewed and again with additional tasks”, said the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini.
“As a matter of priority, we will start in the coming days the revision of the operational plan in order to include the new tasks, such as the mechanism for monitoring the Libyan Coastguard and Navy activities post training, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the mission and the shared responsibility among member states”, she added.
The operation Sophia has been under criticism suggesting it encourages the migrants to attempt the dangerous journey to Europe by the Mediterranean Sea in hope they would be picked by the EU vessels, and brought to Italian shores. The law of the sea is imperative about saving any human being in peril – the activity Sophia has been carrying out with rigor, saving lives of all migrants in dinky boats.