Migrant rescue ship Aquarius forced to cease operations
Aid groups blamed the Italian government and other European states for the move.
Aid groups Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee have said they have been forced to end the rescue operations of the Aquarius ship in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Aquarius has been docked in Marseille since October after Panama revoked its flag.
Last month, Italian prosecutors ordered the seizure of the ship and accused Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, of illegally disposing 24 metric tons of medical and contaminated waste accumulated during rescues.
📅 TODAY 10h30 ⏰ PRESS CONFERENCE in Paris by @SOSMedIntl— SOS MEDITERRANEE (@SOSMedIntl) December 7, 2018
⚡️End of #Aquarius charter, for prompt resumption of search & rescue mission⚡️ 👉🏼https://t.co/cXwnNxZ2G5
“Saving lives at sea is and will remain our mission!"
Follow our Twitter live#TogetherForRescue #SaveRescueAtSea
In a statement, the aid groups said they made the decision because of “a sustained campaign, spearheaded by the Italian government and backed by other European states, to delegitimise, slander and obstruct aid organisations providing assistance to vulnerable people”.
MSF said the Aquarius has assisted nearly 30,000 people since 2016.