The European Commission has denied the presence of the EU operation ‘Irini’ in the Central Mediterranean in the area where ‘main migratory routes are running’, EU’s lead foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano told reporters on Monday.
"Operation Irini is patrolling only in a specified area which was determined by the agreement of all the member states, and this area is not where the main migratory routes are running through,” Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, said at a press conference.
Stano was commenting on whether Irini vessels were close to where a boat carrying migrants sank in international waters at roughly 100 miles from the Libyan port of Benghazi on Sunday.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Italian Coast Guard saved 17 people while roughly 30 died. The first distress alerts were received by Italian, Libyan, and Maltese authorities more than 24 hours before.
The spokesperson added if a vessel of Operation Irini was close, or at the closest one, to an unfolding tragedy, of course, they had the obligation to intervene as any other vessel, saying that the Commission is unable to reply on whether Irini had to intervene or not since it was an operational question for those responsible for the Irini operation.
Meanwhile, the EU's spokeswoman of the European Commission, Ana Pisonero said that the Libyan Coast Guard would receive other patrol boats to improve its control over the territorial waters off the coast of the country. This came after an agreement signed by the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her deputy and foreign minister, Antonio Tajani during their visit to Tripoli in last January.