The Order of Malta Delegation visits the Aircraft Carrier Garibaldi
On 16 November the Order of Malta’s Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Boeselager, accompanied by a delegation, visited the Italian Navy’s Aircraft Carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi at sea outside Sicily. The Garibaldi is the flagship of operation Sophia, the European mission launched in the Mediterranean in 2015 to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking along the migration route starting from Libya. 22 EU member states and over 2200 personnel are directly involved in this operation.
During his visit, the Grand Chancellor visited the ship’s operations centre and learnt about the procedures and policies used daily for actions against human traffickers and smugglers and the UN arms embargo on the high seas.
Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, Operation Sophia Commander, illustrated the tasks and objectives of the mission, whose mandate has been extended to the end of July 2017: “The mission core mandate is to use systematic efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and resources used by human smugglers or traffickers and prevent the further loss of life at sea.” An interesting development in the operation was the training, starting last October, of the first 78 Libyan coastguards and Libyan navy officers and petty officers. The objective is to provide them with the abilities and skills necessary for coastal patrols to improve security in Libyan territorial waters and develop search and rescue capabilities so they can save more lives at sea.
The Grand Chancellor recalled the Order of Malta’s work on the vessels of the Italian Coastguards, Customs Officers and Navy. Since 2008 the volunteers of the Italian Relief corps have been deployed in the Mediterranean to rescue and give first-aid to migrants at sea. Over 55 thousand persons have been saved in this operation, extended to the Aegean Sea when the flow of migrants and refugees from Turkey reached its peak between December 2015 and March 2016.
During his visit the Grand Chancellor, accompanied by Stefano Ronca, Secretary General for Foreign Affairs and the Sovereign Order of Malta’s ambassador to Italy, was able to report on the Order of Malta’s engagement in the Mediterranean at diplomatic level during talks with representatives of the new Libyan institutions. The issues discussed included stabilization of the country, the implementation of laws on human rights and solutions for managing migrant flows on Libyan soil and on the migration routes.
During the visit possible areas of further cooperation were also considered and assessed.