Abuja (Sundiata Post) – EUROPEAN Union (EU) Foreign Ministers have resolved to set up a new mission to monitor the failing United Nations (UN) embargo on arms flowing into conflict-torn Libya in a surprise breakthrough at talks in Brussels.
Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was a major support for the Berlin peace process, which at its core was about keeping the parties in the civil war away from their backers.
According to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Maio, the new mission is to involve aerial, land and naval assets. The details are to be worked out within a short time.
However, key to the breakthrough was the inclusion of measures to allay concerns that the presence of European ships in the Mediterranean Sea would create a pull factor for migrants seeking to reach the Europe from Libya.
Maio said the measures included deploying the vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, away from migrant crossing routes, as well as pledging to suspend the naval operations if a surge in attempted crossings was detected.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said it would be a totally new mission replacing the EU’s suspended `Operation Sophia`.
However, the EU pledged to do its utmost to prevent arms from entering Libya after an international conference on the conflict in January, raising the prospect of reactivating `Operation Sophia`.
Meanwhile, the mission’s official purpose was to break up people-smuggling networks and monitor the embargo, but its naval vessels also picked up migrants stranded at sea, in line with international maritime obligations.
However, the mission’s purpose was suspended in 2019, over a spat about where rescued people should disembark.