On 25 July 2017, the Council of the European Union voted to extend the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA until 31 December 2018. The German Bundestag had already agreed on 29 June 2017 to continue the participation of German armed forces in Operation SOPHIA until 30 June 2018. The German Navy and its European partners are working in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya to combat arms and people smuggling and are meeting their obligation under international law to carry out sea rescues.
Operation SOPHIA is part of an overall EU strategy
Operation SOPHIA is part of an overall EU strategy. Apart from combating smuggler rings, it addresses the structural causes of forced and irregular migration movements across the Mediterranean in the countries of origin and transit. In the future, Germany will continue to be active in this context and to work with its European partners in EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA.
Combating people smugglers remains the priority
Criminal smugglers base their business model on boat passengers being rescued by various actors. They put the lives of thousands of people in danger by transporting them on boats that are overcrowded, unseaworthy and woefully under-equipped. Combating people smugglers’ business model will thus remain Operation SOPHIA’s priority.
The EU is also providing support to the Libyan Coastguard, with the aim of enabling it to rescue vessels in distress in accordance with international law and in line with international standards. A further aim of Operation SOPHIA is to implement the United Nations’ arms embargo against Libya on the high seas. In this way, the operation is helping to stabilise the country.
Over 41,000 lives have been saved
Between the start of Operation SOPHIA in June 2015 and July 2017, the men and women deployed on Operation SOPHIA ships saved the lives of over 41,000 people in the Mediterranean Sea. Germany has been part of the operation since the beginning.
Working together on all levels
The operation, which is led by Rear-Admiral Enrico Credendino of Italy, will also gather information on goods and oil smuggling in the future and share more information with the EU Member States’ law enforcement agencies, as well as with Europol and Frontex. A further aim is to improve monitoring of the effectiveness of the training provided.
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Speech by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to the German Bundestag on the German Government's motion on continuing the participation of armed German forces in EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA (02 June 2017)