The second phase of EUNAVFOR MED, “Sofia”, started in October. It takes name from a Somali child born during a critic journey in the Mediterranean and rescued by a German ship last August.
The project aims to stop the trafficking of human beings intercepting smugglers in the sea. The monitoring of international waters, aims to search, control and seize suspicious craft, and it is entrusted to military ships, helicopters and drones. All this, within the framework of the objectives set in July by the European Union to stem the crisis of migrants in the Mediterranean: identification, arrest and destruction of boats and means used by traffickers.
Currently, six European warships are engaged offshore Libya: an Italian one, an English one, a French one, a Spanish one and two German, but later this month three other means should be made available from England, Belgium and Slovenia. Four helicopters, many drones and 1300 military will be added to these.
According to Admiral Enrico Credendino, head of mission, “the order is enforcing law by the use of force, to dislocate traffickers’ business. While the first phase aimed to find the necessary information about transnational criminal network, the second phase provides for the boarding of vessels, their inspection, the reception of migrants, the arrest of traffickers and the destruction of their boats. All this, however, within international waters, 12 nautical miles away from the Libyan coast. We need a United Nations decision and an invitation from Libyan government to operate directly in the territorial waters. The third next phase would allow the temporary landing on the ground for the destruction of smugglers’ structures “.
This last phase, which hasn’t yet received the green light of the EU, would actually be the most effective, since it is in Libyan waters that most of the smugglers operate, but – as the Italian Foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni says – ”UN Security Council can’t authorize this intervention without the express request of Libya “.
14 European countries are participating in EUNAVFOR MED: Italy, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Slovenia, Greece, Luxembourg, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden. The costs of military intervention – apart from an annually European contribution of 12 million Euros – are supported by the individual participating countries. Italy has contributed to the mission with a budget of 26 million euro and 1.020 soldiers.