Germany Extends Naval Mandate in Mediterranean


On Thursday, the German government announced that it would extend the deployment of its naval units in the Mediterranean, until the end of April 2024.

The German government’s Spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit affirmed that the mandate will “allow the government to deploy up to 300 soldiers, two naval ships, and one reconnaissance aircraft in the region until the end of April 2024.” The cost of the deployment is estimated to be around €21.8 million euros ($23 million dollars).

Last week, the European Union extended the mandate of its military operation, IRINI. This is tasked with enforcing the arms and oil embargo on Libya, and fighting human trafficking in the Mediterranean.

The EU Foreign Affairs ministers agreed to extend the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, until 31 March 2025, the Council of the EU announced in a statement.

The core task of IRINI is to help implement the UN arms embargo on Libya. It aims to investigate violations of the embargo, undertake maritime monitoring, and divert vessels suspected of breaking the embargo to a member state port for further action.

Troops are also there to prevent illicit exports of petroleum, crude oil, and refined petroleum products from Libya, and disrupt the business model of smugglers and traffickers.

Germany’s involvement is part of the common action of the EU, within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

It also contributes to the disruption of the migrant smuggling business model, by collecting information with aerial assets and sharing them with FRONTEX, and relevant national authorities.

On three occasions, IRINI seized cargo assessed to be in violation of the UN arms embargo, and diverted the vessels to an EU member state port.

Turkish-flagged ships have denied consent to board and inspect vessels on nine occasions.

The operation says that its inspections are “always carried out in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and in full respect of international law.”

Last year, a United Nations panel of experts said in a report that the arms embargo in 2011 remains “totally ineffective.” It added that civilians, including migrants and asylum seekers, continue to suffer widespread violations and abuses.

The panel said it identified 18 arms transfers, and four examples of military training between March 2021 and late April 2022, which violated the UN arms embargo.

According to the report, Libya faces a serious security threat from foreign fighters and private military companies, which have violated international law.

The experts also accused seven armed groups of systematically using unlawful detention to punish perceived opponents. They continue to ignore international and domestic civil rights laws, including laws prohibiting torture.

“Migrants have been extremely vulnerable to human rights abuses, and are regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape, and torture,” the panel said in their report obtained by the Associated Press.