EU launches Operation IRINI to monitor Libya arms embargo

The European Union is stepping up its efforts to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, thereby contributing to the peace process in the country, through the launch of a new CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) military operation in the Mediterranean, EEAS reported on Tuesday. The Council today adopted a decision launching Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI as from 1 April 2020.

“This is an important contribution by the European Union to support the political process, the so-called Berlin process, aimed at ending the conflict in Libya. Second, it also shows that in times of coronavirus, we continue to be aware of our responsibility and try to play an important role in promoting peace in our immediate neighborhood”, EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said in Brussels.

IRINI (Greek for "peace") will have as its core task the implementation of the UN arms embargo through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In particular the mission will be able to carry out inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution  2292 (2016).

EUNAVFOR MED IRINI will also monitor and gather information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products. The mission will contribute to the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea. It also will help the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks through information gathering and patrolling by planes.

IRINI will be led by Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini as EU Operation Commander, and its headquarters will be located in Rome, Italy. The mandate of Operation IRINI will initially last until 31 March 2021, and will be under the close scrutiny of EU Member States, that will exercise political control and strategic direction through the Political and Security Committee (PSC), under the responsibility of the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In parallel with the launch of Operation IRINI, the existing EUNAVFOR MED operation in the Mediterranean, SOPHIA, launched in 2015, will permanently cease its activities.


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