I thank the Senator for raising what he has rightly described as a serious and important issue. We are all troubled by the persistent and ongoing human rights abominations taking place not only in Libya but in many other places as well. I have a script but I will answer the questions. Some of the answers are contained in my prepared response, but it is important to highlight a number of important issues. First and foremost, the instability at both national and regional level in Libya has meant that for many years the country has been a destination for migrants. It has become a major transit country. Adding to the complication for us and for the European Union as a whole is that no single government has had control over Libya since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi. Currently, there are a number of competing governments in Libya, none of which has control of more than one portion of the territory. It is the main point of embarkment for irregular migration along the central Mediterranean route from north Africa to Europe, with people smugglers exploiting the unstable situation to ply their trade for their own gains, as the Senator has identified. The precariousness of the humanitarian, economic and security situation complicates the EU's engagements with the Libyan authorities. This includes the issue of migration. The conditions in detention centres, as the Senator outlined, are appalling.
EU support for Libya is primarily provided through the EU emergency trust fund for Africa. Support to the Libyan coastguard is included in the €91.3 million programme of support to the integrated border and migration management programme. The programme provides training, including in human rights and in equipment, especially communications and rescue equipment, as well as the development of institutional capacity. The programme also aims to ensure that the Libyan authorities themselves comply with human rights standards in the search and rescue operations. Through the trust fund, country-level funding totalling €282 million has been approved for Libya to date. The EU is actively working to provide protection, assistance and alternatives to migrants, refugees, internally displaced people and host communities in different locations inside Libya, in particular inside detention centres, at disembarkation points and in urban settings.
At the same time, the EU recognises that conditions in these detention centres are a matter of great concern and this informs the approach taken in designing programmes funded through the trust fund. Funded actions in detention centres run by the Libyan Department for Combating Illegal Migration have a twofold focus. These actions aim to improve conditions for detainees, which the Senator outlined, and to assist detainees with voluntary humanitarian repatriation to their countries of origin. Key partners are the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, with which we work closely, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR. The trust fund supports the provision of emergency medical care and life-saving services to detained migrants. This includes psycho-social support. Support is provided for improving sanitary and hygiene conditions, including the provision of toilets, showers, storage facilities and distribution capacity for drinking water, sewerage systems and the distribution of essential non-food items to detainees.
While many inhumane actions are taking place, the funding we provide and much of the work we do through these organisations aims to ensure this money gets to the people that need it. The trust fund also supports the provision of human rights and protection training for detention centre personnel. These people are given a clear mandate to support and work with those who need their help. Regarding voluntary humanitarian repatriation, the trust fund works in close cooperation with the IOM in helping migrants both inside and outside detention centres to return to their countries of origin.
Regarding Ireland's position in all of this, we have committed to paying €15 million between 2016 and 2020. That increased from €3 million to 15 million last year. This supports initiatives across the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, the Lake Chad region and north Africa. To date, funding of more than €530 million has been approved through the north of Africa window, of which Libya accounts for approximately 53%.
Irish participation in Operation Sophia was approved in by the Government and by both Houses of the Oireachtas. The participation of LE Niamh in Operation Sophia between October and December 2017 represented the first involvement by the Naval Service in a multilateral security operation under a UN mandate. In February 2018, the Government approved a further Naval Service contribution to Operation Sophia. This involved a total of two naval vessels deployed consecutively from 15 April to 27 October 2018. In addition, a total of five members of the Defence Forces were deployed in the operation's headquarters during 2018 and to date in 2019. Operation Sophia is mandated to counter human trafficking and smuggling in the southern central Mediterranean by taking action against the criminal networks and disrupting the smugglers' business model, which the Senator has referred to. I must be clear in pointing out that at no point in these rescue missions or during the work undertaken under Operation Sophia have any of the migrants rescued by Naval Service vessels been returned to Libya. They are disembarked at an Italian port.
A number of articles outline the structure of PESCO and our connection with it. Article 42 of the treaty clearly outlines that it shall not affect the provisions of Article 43, which is the basis on which Operation Sophia is taking place. When we joined PESCO, we were clear in outlining our own mandate as a neutral country and, most important, where we wanted to focus our priorities. To date, we have taken part in two programmes under PESCO. One concerns maritime surveillance and the other is a training mission competence centre in Mali where we have 20 troops. Our involvement in PESCO is separate to, and independent of, Operation Sophia.
However, as outlined, none of the migrants who have been rescued and taken on board the Naval Service vessels has been returned to Libya. They have been returned to the Italian coastguard. We are working with the International Organization for Migration and the UNCHR and co-operating with the High Representative, Ms Federica Mogherini. The purpose of all of the funding we are providing is to ensure that those who are most in need of support receive it. I acknowledge that there is still a great deal of work to do and that serious human rights violations are taking place. All we can do is to continue working with these organisations and those on the ground, as well as with journalists who are giving us this information. I greatly respect the work of the journalists on the ground in ensuring these difficult cases are highlighted. However, we must ensure we provide financial support and assistance and do everything we can to support the people who need it.