08:12 GMT +316 December 2019
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    Migrants in an overcrowded plastic raft reach out for life jackets during a search and rescue operation by rescue ship Aquarius, operated by SOS Mediterranean and Doctors without Borders, in central Mediterranean Sea May 18, 2017

    EU Naval Operation Sophia Failed to Stop Human Smuggling in Mediterranean

    © REUTERS / Kenny Karpov/ SOS Mediteranee
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    Operation Sophia, an EU initiative which aims at combating migrant trafficking in the Mediterranean, has failed to achieve its goal, UK House of Lords EU External Affairs Sub-Committee said in a report published Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The EUNAVFOR MED operation, commonly referred to as the Sophia mission, consists of a series of measures that aim at identifying, capturing and disposing of vessels used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers. The operation contributes to wider EU efforts to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean and prevent the further loss of life at sea. The operation received the name Sophia after a girl born by a rescued Somali woman on the board of EUNAVFOR MED ship.

    "Judged against its mandate, the EU’s naval mission, Operation Sophia, has failed to achieve its objective of 'contributing to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean'. Irregular migration into Europe on the central Mediterranean route increased by 18 percent in 2016, and by another 19 percent in the first six months of 2017 compared to 2016," the report said.

    Commenting on the findings, Chairman of the Sub-Committee Sandip Verma said that a naval mission was the wrong tool for dealing with migrant smuggling.

    "Future UK and EU action should focus on tackling people smuggling in source and transit countries, and supporting sustainable economic development and good governance in these countries," Verma stressed.

    Since the inception of the mission in June 2015, operation Sophia vessels have rescued over 33,000 individuals, according to the UK Sub-Committee's report.

    smuggling, migrant crisis, European Union, Mediterranean Sea
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