European Union launches naval operation against human traffickers in Mediterranean

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Brussels: The European Union (EU) on Monday launched a naval operation against human traffickers in the Mediterranean.

According to an EU statement, the mission titled “EUNAVFOR Med” is aimed at identifying, capturing and seizing vessels used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers, Xinhua news agency reported.

EUNAVFOR Med will run for 12 months. The first phase is to focus on surveillance and assessing human smuggling and trafficking networks in the southern central Mediterranean.

The second stage of the operation is to search and, if necessary, apprehend suspicious vessels.

The third phase would dispose of the vessels, and arrest traffickers and smugglers.

The European Council will assess when to move beyond the first step, taking into account a UN mandate and the consent of the coastal states concerned.

The cost of the operation is estimated at 11.82 million euros (about $13 million). (IANS)