"Cantabria" ship from Operation Sophia migrant mission in Mediterranean docks in La Goulette
05/10/2017 19:12, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) - Spanish ship "Cantabria", which has jointed Operation Sophia, a European Union’s migrant mission in the Mediterranean Sea, on Thursday, docked at La Goulette for a two-day call.

This is the second visit part of Operation Sophia, to which Tunisia contributes as partner along with 25 other countries.

In a press briefing held abroad the ship, EU ambassador to Tunisia Patrice Bergamini said the military operation was launched on May 18, 2015 by the EU as part of an overall solution under the common security and defense policy to combat smuggling of migrants in the Mediterranean.

Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, Commander of Operation Sophia said the mission's goal is to undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and boats, as well as resources used or suspected of being used by smugglers or migrant traffickers or smugglers.

Credendino said the operation is also responsible for the training of Libyan coastguards and seamen and for the control of the arms embargo, particularly in Libya.

In this connection, Credendidno reported the seizure of several weapons on board illegal boats.

He said Operation Sophia has so far resulted in the seizure of 500 boats, the rescue of more than 50 thousand migrants and the training of more than 130 Libyan coast guards.

"We are training more than 50 others in Italy. Our goal is to train 500 Libyan coast guards before the end of 2018," he said in a statement to TAP.

"The number of people who have died in illegal migration operations has decreased by 60% compared to the same period last year," he noted, adding that the Libyan authorities have received from the European Union 4 military vessels to help them protect their coasts.

The EU ambassador to Tunisia said negotiations were underway with the Tunisian security authorities to train Libyan Coast Guard in Tunisia in co-operation with EU experts.

"Tunisia is particularly well placed to help us. Beyond the language and its particular knowledge of the Libyan scene, it has expertise and know-how very useful for the success of Operation Sophia," he told TAP the TAP.

Initially named Eunavfor Med, the European operation was named after a little girl named Sophia, born on August 24, 2015 aboard a German frigate which then crossed the Central Mediterranean as part of its European mission.

Sophia is a baby who was born on 24 August 2015 at 04.15 am on board the German frigate Schleswig-Holstein, operating in the Central Mediterranean Sea as part of EUNAVFOR MED Task Force.

Born from a Somali mother rescued together with other 453 migrants and disembarked on the evening of the same day in the harbour of Taranto, Sophia was named after the German ship dedicated to the Prussian princess Sophia of Schleswig-Holstein.

Bergamini said the number of countries participating in Operation Sophia is currently 25.

The press conference was followed by a guided tour of the vessel considered as the flagship for European naval forces.

The ship has rescued more than 400 migrants. It will leave the port of La Goulette on Saturday morning.

Twitter Updates Newsletter Signup Contact Us

To receive our newsletter,register

tel: 71889000
fax: 71883500, 71888999