31 Dec 2020

Leaving 2020: an intense and demanding year for EUNAFORMED IRINI

Just before the end of the year, leaving 2020 behind us leads us to stop for a moment to think over the intense, demanding and challenging activity that we have gone through.

Launched by the EU Council in the midst of the Covid-19 emergency, Operation EUNAFORMED IRINI immediately contributed to enhance the security in a complex theatre like the Mediterranean.

The sense of responsibility, the tenacity, the constant commitment of the women and men of Operation IRINI towards the objectives and the mission, have allowed us to succeed in making the Central Mediterranean a more controlled, known and safer arena. Of course, plenty of unresolved crises and challenges are still out there and 2020 achievements shall represent our guideline to continue to address them, in a professional, impartial and balanced way also during the forthcoming new year.

Since May 4, when the Operation started its activity at sea, Irini assets have patrolled the central Mediterranean investigating 1560 merchant vessels (hailings), conducting 62 friendly approaches (consensual visits on board of merchant vessels) 6 inspections (boardings) of merchant vessels to verify their cargo and one diversion of a merchant vessel for infringement to the arms embargo. The Operation has also monitored the activities in 16 Libyan ports and oil facilities.

With regard to the air routes monitoring, the operation has checked 25 airports and landing strips as well as 155 flights possibly carrying military related cargos back and forth to Libya.

All this activities have been carried out in full respect of the impartiality principle towards the belligerent parties in Libya, to which Operation IRINI has always strictly complied. This is also evidenced by the 17 special reports that the Operation has issued to the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya (#UNPoE) regarding violations or possible violations of the UN Security Council resolutions on the arms embargo and on the prevention of oil smuggling. These results were possible also thanks to the European Union Satellite Centre (#EUSATCEN), which provided about 436 sets of satellite images at Irini’s requests.

As of today the Operation consists of 2 ships, the Italian patrol vessel “Cigala Fulgosi” and the Greek frigate “Adrias”. 1 Italian drones Predator and 3 aircraft are continuously assigned, the Luxemburg “SSW3 Merlin III/IV”, the German “P-3C Orion” and the Polish “28B1R Antonov  Bryza”. A Greek “EMB -145” and a French “Falcon 50”/”ATL2” are assigned in Direct Support for a few sorties per month.

Nine months after the launch, we can proudly assess that #OperationIRINI is being effective, is delivering results and is firmly present in the Central Mediterranean Sea to enhance the security and stability of this turbulent area.

It is on this basis that we look at the new year, with renewed strength and determination to enhance even further the European Union and IRINI’s footprint in the area with the final objective to provide a concrete and resolute contribution to the Berlin peace process for Libya.