EU launches naval operation against human smugglers
Updated: 2015-06-22 19:46
BRUSSELS - The European Union on Monday launched an EU naval operation against human smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean called "EUNAVFOR Med," an issue that was high on EU foreign ministers' agenda at a recent meeting in Luxembourg.
According to a press release issued by the Council of the EU, the mission is to identify, capture and sieze vessels used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers.
EUNAVFOR Med, which will initially last 12 months, will be conducted in sequential phases. The first phase is to focus on surveilling and assessing human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean.
The second stage of the operation is to search and, if necessary, apprehend suspicious vessels. A third phase would dispose of the vessels, and arrest traffickers and smugglers.
The Council will assess when to move beyond the first step, taking into account a UN mandate and the consent of the coastal states concerned.
The cost of the operation is estimated to be 11.82 million euros.
EUNAVFOR Med, established on May 18, is one element of the broader EU comprehensive approach to migration which aims to respond to the immediate need to save lives and address emergency situations, tackle the root causes of irregular migration, and fight traffickers.
"With this operation, we are targeting the business model of those who benefit from the misery of migrants. But it's only a part of a broader strategy including the cooperation with our partners in Africa, particularly in the Sahel region, and the work with the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)," said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.