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EU to Launch Stage 2 of Operation Against Human Traffickers in October

© AP PhotoOfficers of the Irish Navy ship Le Eithne rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
Officers of the Irish Navy ship Le Eithne rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. - Sputnik International
The second stage involves searches and potential seizures of suspicious ships that might be involved in human trafficking.

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BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — The European Union may launch the second stage of its naval mission to break up smuggler networks in October, which will add the task of inspecting suspicious ships in international waters, a source in the European Council told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

In late June, the European Union launched a military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED) directed against human traffickers who smuggle migrants from North Africa to Europe.

“We expect the second stage to be launched in October,” the source said.

He added that the issue will be discussed this week at the informal meetings of the EU foreign and defense ministers in Luxembourg.

On Thursday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said that the operation commander of the EUNAVFOR Med mission had proposed progressing to the second stage of the operation.

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During the first stage, vessels and aircraft were deployed in international waters where they have been gathering information on human traffickers. The subsequent stage involves searches and potential seizures of suspicious ships.

The European Union has been struggling to cope with a migration crisis in the Mediterranean, as a record number — 340,000 — of undocumented migrants managed to illegally cross into the bloc in the first seven months of 2015, according to EU external border protection agency, Frontex, estimates.

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