EU to suspend Mediterranean migrant rescue operations

Following a disagreement between participating states, the European Union will suspend its migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean, news agencies report.

Following a disagreement between participating states, the European Union will suspend its migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean. 

Operation Sophia, formally known as the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean, is a military operation run by the European Union that was established as a consequence of the April 2015 Libya migrant shipwrecks with the aim of neutralizing established refugee smuggling routes in the Mediterranean.

The operation rescued 43,227 migrants in the Mediterranean up until the end of 2018 and all of them have been taken to Italy. The future of the operation became uncertain because Italy refused to harbor all refugees, demanding instead that they be distributed among EU member states.

Italian Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said Italy should have no interest in being part of a mission in which all refugees end up in their country.

Germany - after its frigate Augsburg ended its Sophia duty tour at the beginning of February - refused to send a replacement ship and Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyden accused Italy of sabotaging the mission by sending the German ship to patrol waters with no known sea routes or smuggling operations.

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