25 – 31 March: EU launches Operation Irini

Apr 1, 2020 | International actors

On 26 March, ambassadors from 27 European Union (EU) countries came to an agreement to launch a naval mission – dubbed Operation Irini – to enforce the United Nations (UN) arms embargo on Libya. The mission will formally be launched on 31 March, just as the existing Operation Sophia ends, with a renewable one-year mandate. Ministers will review the mission every four months to check it is not having a “pull effect” on migrants.

In an open letter published on 27 March, the US Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, called on the Libyan authorities to stop the fighting, pay salaries and treat the sick in advance of the expected outbreak.

On 24 March, the acting UN Special Envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams, strongly condemned the grave violation of the “humanitarian pause” to which both the Libyan National Army (LNA) and Government of National Accord (GNA) nominally agreed the week before. She stressed that armed clashes, shelling, and mobilization of forces in Libya continues, with “unacceptable disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the civilian population”.