BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – The European Union extended Tuesday the mandate of Operation Sophia, an EU program aimed at tackling the human trafficking in the Mediterranean, until the end of 2018, the Council of the European Union said in a statement, adding the mission was also granted more responsibilities.
"On 25 July 2017, the Council extended the mandate of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 31 December 2018," the statement said.
"The Council also amended the operation’s mandate to: set up a monitoring mechanism of trainees to ensure the long-term efficiency of the training of the Libyan Coastguard; conduct new surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya …; enhance the possibilities for sharing information on human trafficking with member states' law enforcement agencies, FRONTEX and EUROPOL," the statement added.
In 2015, the European Union launched a naval operation called EUNAVFOR Med (EU Naval Forces in the Mediterranean), also known as the Operation Sophia. Its aim is to stem the flow of migrants and refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, particularly from Libya to Italy, as well as to reduce human smuggling across the Mediterranean. The operation has so far resulted in the arrests of 110 suspected human smugglers and rescue of about 40,000 people.