EU recalls ships helping in Mediterranean migrants rescue mission

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The European Union is lamenting a move by member countries to recall all the ships taking part in an EU naval mission helping to manage migration in the Mediterranean Sea.

The EU’s Operation Sophia has been working to reduce migrant smuggling, train the Libyan coastguard and enforce an arms embargo on Libya.

EU Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said Wednesday that “without naval assets, the operation will not be able to effectively implement its mandate.”

Italy commands Sophia but the anti-migrant government refuses to allow any people it rescues to be disembarked in its ports, complicating the mission.

EU countries agree in principle to renew Sophia’s mandate for six months. For now, they want to recall its ships, but not its aircraft.

A formal decision must be made by March 31.

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