Frontex to launch new Central Mediterranean operation

New Joint Operation Themis will assist Italy in border control activities, continue search an rescue, and have an enhanced law enforcement focus

Frontex is launching Joint Operation Themis which will assist Italy in border control activities (File photo)
Frontex is launching Joint Operation Themis which will assist Italy in border control activities (File photo)

The European Border and Coast Agency Frontex will be launching a new operation in the Central Mediterranean, on 1 February, which aims to assist Italy in border control activities.

The new Joint Operation Themis will replace operation Triton, which was launched in 2014.

Operation Themis will continue to include search and rescue as a crucial component. At the same time, the new operation will have an enhanced law enforcement focus. Its operational area will span the Central Mediterranean Sea from waters covering flows from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Albania.

Operation Themis will better reflect the changing patterns of migration, as well as cross border crime. Frontex will also assist Italy in tracking down criminal activities, such as drug smuggling across the Adriatic,” Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said.

It is envisaged that the security component of Operation Themis will include the collection of intelligence, as well as other steps aimed at detecting foreign fighters and other terrorist threats at the external borders.

“We need to be better equipped to prevent criminal groups that try to enter the EU undetected. This is crucial for the internal security of the European Union,” Leggeri maintained.

As part of Operation Themis, Frontex’s presence in Italian hotspots will continue, with officers deployed by the agency assisting the national authorities in registering migrants, including taking their fingerprints and confirming their nationalities.

Frontex vessels will also continue their search and rescue operations under the coordination of the responsible Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres.

Last year, Frontex assisted in the rescuing of 38,000 people at sea in operations in Italy, Greece and Spain.

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