Phase 1 of our naval operation against human traffickers in the Mediterranean is completed. I’m in Rome today, at the operational headquarters of Eunavfor Med. I met with rear admiral Enrico Credendino: the first part of the operation was successful. Following our activities, 15 suspected smugglers and traffickers have been arrested by the Italian authorities and the number of boats that have been seized is also 15. On top of that, there have been 20 cases where suspected smugglers and traffickers have been sighted on the high seas.
We gathered enougn intelligence on routes, assets, criminal networks. We are ready to move to the next phase in the high seas, which will allow us to seize the smugglers’ vessels.
In the meantime, our ships are saving lives. From July 27th until now we have saved, only with vessels that participate to the operation, 2,186 people out of which 472 were women, 114 children and 4 babies. One of these babies was born on one of the ships that is participating in the operation, and was named after the ship, Sophia. I will suggest to Member States that we change the name of our operation: I would like it to be called Sophia, to keep in mind what this is all about.