EU boosts Libya naval mission, enforces arms embargo

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, June 20, 2016
Posted in category Africa, Africa News, Eurasia, Eurasia News
Comments Off on EU boosts Libya naval mission, enforces arms embargo

EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to boost the bloc’s anti-people smuggling operation in the Mediterranean to include training of the Libyan coastguard and enforcing a UN arms embargo.

Ministers also agreed to extend Operation Sophia’s mandate by one year, a statement said, as the European Union tries to stem a flood of migrants from North Africa and beyond trying to get to Europe.

“The Council [of member states] extended until 27 July 2017 the mandate for EU NAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, the EU naval operation to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and traffickers in the southern central Mediterranean,” a statement said after the ministers met in Luxembourg.

“The Council also reinforced the operation’s mandate by adding two supporting tasks – training of the Libyan coastguard and navy, and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.”

The EU launched Operation Sophia last year after hundreds of migrants died when their rickety boats sank off southern Italy, sparking popular outrage at their plight.

This central Mediterranean route has seen more migrants risk their lives in recent weeks after the EU reached an accord with Turkey in March to halt an influx of more than a million refugees who crossed the Aegean to reach Europe last year.

Operation Sophia currently comprises five vessels and three helicopters charged with intercepting smugglers’ boats and destroying them, in international waters.

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