EU approves Operation Sophia extension, recalls ships

Extended until 30 September without naval support

29 March, 17:18

    EU approves Operation Sophia extension, recalls ships EU approves Operation Sophia extension, recalls ships

    BRUSSELS - The Council of the European Union on Friday officially approved an extension for Operation Sophia, previously EUNavForMed, through September 30.

    The operation's commander received instructions to temporarily suspend, for operational reasons, the deployment of naval units for the entire extension period.

    EU countries will continue to work on a solution to the problem of disembarkations as part of the conclusions from the European Council in June 2018, the Council said.

    The Council of the EU's approval of the extension for Sophia, which came through a written procedure, formalises the agreement between EU ambassadors reached on Tuesday at the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

    "The operation will continue to properly implement its mandate, increasing surveillance with aircraft and strengthening its support to the Libyan coast guard and navy in sea tasks through expanded monitoring, also on land, and continuing training," a statement from the Council said.

    "The operation's main mandate is to contribute to EU efforts to dismantle the model of activity of migrant trafficking and human trafficking in the south-central Mediterranean. The operation also carries out support tasks. It is responsible for training the Libyan coast guard and navy, it checks the long-term efficiency of the training, and contributes to the implementation of the EU embargo on arms on the high seas off the coasts of Libya. The operation also carries out surveillance and intelligence-gathering activities on illegal traffic of oil exportation from Libya, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. In so doing, it contributes to EU efforts for the return of stability and security in Libya and maritime security in the central Mediterranean region".

    Operation Sophia began on June 22, 2015 and is part of the EU's global approach to migration.

    The operation's commander is Italian Division Admiral Enrico Credendino and its command is headquartered in Rome.

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