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Belgian minister says Operation Sophia is “lunacy”

The EU naval operation to save migrants and disrupt human-trafficking networks is “lunacy” and brings “shame” on Europe, a Belgian government minister has said.

Migration minister Theo Francken is calling for the EU’s Sophia anti-arms and people-smuggling operation to be abandoned.   Belgium currently has the frigate BNS Louise Marie deployed between Sicily and Libya.

“Personally I think this operation should not be repeated because it is pure lunacy. There is no logic to it,” Francken told broadcaster VTM.

“It is not about whether we should save them [migrants] or not. We should. But this creates an effect of drawing in migrants with more dead people as a result. It is a shame on Europe”.

His remarks come days after a British parliamentary committee branded Sophia a failure which should be abandoned.

While Francken was clear that he was speaking for himself, the Belgian defence ministry has  already indicated that it may pull out of Sophia, if Libya does not permit EU vessels to interdict smugglers inside its territorial waters, which is the next planned phase of the EU operation.

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