EU extends Mediterranean anti-trafficking mission
Brussels: The European Council on Friday extended the European Union’s Operation Sophia migrant search and rescue mission until March 31 next year, the EU’s top decision-making body said in a statement.
Italy earlier in December vowed that the EUs Sophia anti-trafficking mission would end when its current mandate expired at the end of the year if there was no change to the rules of the mission — which currently lands all rescued migrants in Italian ports.
Currently commanded by Italian Rear Admiral Enrico Credentino, Sophia’s core mandate is to help the EU smash migrant smuggling networks. It also trains the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and helps enforce a UN arms embargo.
Sophia also conducts surveillance activities and gathers information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from turmoil-hit Libya, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
Headquartered in Rome, the mission was launched on June 22, 2015.