EU to launch new Libya sea patrols in Mediterranean from April, diplomats say
The European Union will launch a new Mediterranean naval and air mission in April to stop more arms reach warring factions in Libya, Reuters quoted EU diplomats as saying on Thursday. They added that Greece agreed to take in any migrants rescued at sea.
The decision had been delayed by divisions over migrants. It followed warnings by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell that the bloc risked becoming irrelevant if it could not act.
The new efforts, named Irini, will replace the EU’s current military mission, known as Operation Sophia. It stopped deploying ships a year ago after Italy said it would no longer take migrants rescued at sea.
Sophia’s mandate expires at the end of March. Operation Irini aims to start patrolling the eastern Mediterranean, where most arms smuggling takes place. Diplomats say the EU is unable to patrol the Egypt-Libya land border through which artillery “is still being delivered.”