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European Union launches Libyan arms embargo mission Irini

Operation Irini
Illustration. Photo: EUNAVFOR

The European Union has announced the formal launch of a naval mission that will enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.

Dubbed operation Irini, Greek for “peace”, the military operation is aimed at contributing to the restoration of peace in the war-torn country.

“Only political solutions and the full respect of the UN arms embargo will bring a solution to the Libyan crisis. But diplomacy cannot succeed unless it is backed by action,” the EU said in an announcement.

Operation Irini will make use of allied aerial, satellite and maritime assets for inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya.

The mission will also help monitor and gather information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products, in addition to contributing to the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea. This is an aspect that was previously covered by operation Sophia, the operation that is being succeeded and replaced by the new mission.

The new operation will be led by Italian Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini, and its headquarters will be located in Rome, Italy.

The mandate of operation Irini will initially last until March 31, 2021, and will be monitored by EU member states, that will exercise political control and strategic direction through the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia was launched on June 22, 2015, in the wake of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, and is ceasing permanently on March 31.