On Monday, the European Union initiated the EUNAVFOR Med EU naval operation aimed at stopping human smugglers and traffickers operating in the vicinity of the Mediterranean. During a recent meeting that took place in Luxemburg, EU foreign ministers had placed solving the issue among the top of their list of priorities.

As pointed out by an EU Council press statement, the mission will aim to identify, capture and seize ships that have been used or have been the object of suspicion of being used for the purposes of smuggling and trafficking migrants.

The operation will have a duration of 12 months and is to be carried out in sequential phases. The 1st of which is going to emphasize on the surveillance and assessment of the Southern Central Mediterranean human smuggling and trafficking networks.

The 2nd stage is going to search, locate and apprehend, if necessary, vessels that wary concern. The 3rd phase will be aimed at disposing of the said vessels and arresting traffickers and smugglers.

The Council is to determine the time at which it would be sufficient to move from phase one on to the next, keeping in regard a UN mandate and concerned coastal states’ consent.

According to initial estimates, the operation’s total expenditure sits at 11.82 million euros.

The 18th-of-May established EUNAVFOR Med, is among the lines of a larger scale of EU comprehensive efforts aiming to comply with the immediate need of saving lives and coping with situations of emergency, handling and solving the causes behind irregular migration and dealing with traffickers.

“By carrying out this operation, we hope to put an end to a business model that exploits the misery suffered by migrants. This, however, is merely a part of a far more serious strategy that includes co-op efforts with our African partners, especially in the Sahel region, and our combined efforts with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration,” commented Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief.