June 21. 2024. 4:26

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Commission denies Irini’s operation presence in Mediterranean migration routes

The European Commission has denied the presence of the EU military operation called ‘Irini’ in the Central Mediterranean in the area where ‘main migratory routes are running’, diplomatic spokesperson Peter Stano told the press on Monday (13 March).

Stano was commenting on whether Irini vessels were close to where a boat carrying migrants sank in international waters at roughly 100 miles from the Libyan port of Benghazi on Sunday.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Italian Coast Guard saved 17 people while roughly 30 died. The first distress alerts were received by Italian, Libyan, and Maltese authorities more than 24 hours before.

Operation Irini is an EU initiative backed by member states in the central Mediterranean designed to intercept boats involved in illegal weapons trafficking and petrol boats from Libya, as well as tackle human trafficking and train the Libyan coast guard.

The Irini operation is concentrated in international waters and cannot operate in territorial waters, which are those up to 12 miles from a countries’ coasts.

“Operation Irini is patrolling only in a specified area which was determined by the agreement of all the member states, and this area is not where the main migratory routes are running through,” Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, said at a press conference on Monday.

EUNAVFOR MED Op Irini’s ‘Area of Operations’ (AOO) is limited southbound by Libyan territorial waters (12nm). Tobruk is therefore a pretty safe bet for route-smart LNA-bound maritime arms shipments, but the land/air bridge via Egypt will always be preferable. #Libya pic.twitter.com/hfx0n3VGzZ

— Libya Monitoring