Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI - January report

In January 2023, Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI investigated 230 merchant vessels via radio calls (out of 8 376) and carried out five visits on ships with Masters’ consent (out of 425). The Operation also monitored 21 suspect flights (out of 1 106) and continued to monitor 25 airports (and landing strips) and 16 ports (and oil terminals). Through the Crime Information Cell, the Operation issued two (out of 77) recommendations of inspection of a suspect vessel in EU Member States’ ports.



After the 1st Berlin Conference, the Council of the European Union decided to launch, on 31 March 2020, a new Operation called EUNAVOR MED IRINI. It is mainly maritime activity and focused on implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya.

IRINI is part of the European integrated approach to Libya which includes political, military, economic and humanitarian efforts to bring stability and security to the country.

The tasks of Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI are:

  • to counter illegal arms trafficking, supporting the implementation of the arms embargo on Libya based on the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (core task)
  • to gather information on oil smuggling, in particular due to its consequences on the Libyan economy and its possible use to finance the arms market
  • to contribute to the disruption of the migrant smuggling business model by collecting information with aerial assets and sharing it with FRONTEX (The European Border and Coast Guard Agency) and relevant national authorities
  • to support the development of Libyan Coast Guard and Navy’s Search and Rescue capacity through training. This task is yet to be implemented.


Since its launch, Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI has boarded and inspected 25 suspect vessels. On three occasions, IRINI seized the cargos assessed to be in violation of the UN arms embargo and diverted the vessels to a port of an EU Member State. One flag State (Turkey) has denied the consent to board and inspect suspect vessels on nine occasions.

Operation IRINI has also investigated 8 376 merchant vessels through request of information via radio calls (hailing) and visited 425 vessels upon their Masters’ consent (so-called ‘friendly approaches’*.)

Furthermore, the Operation has investigated 

  • 1 106 suspect flights 
  • 25 airports and 16 ports and
  • provided 41 special reports to the UN Panel of Expert on Libya. Most of these referred to violations or possible violations of the arms embargo and oil smuggling activities in the west and in the east of the country.

Finally, through the embedded Crime Information Cell, the operation issued 77 recommendations for inspection of suspect vessels in EU Member States’ ports to the relevant Law Enforcement agencies, of which 59 were conducted.

These results have demonstrated IRINI’s effectiveness and impartiality.

* Inspections or friendly approaches are always carried out in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions framework, in full respect of the international law, without undermining the vessels’ schedule of activities. Furthermore, COVID-19 preventive measures are always implemented during these activities.

(data updated up to 31 January 2023)