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Aquarius migrant rescue ship to end operations: SOS Mediterranee

AFP  |  Paris 

The migrant rescue ship is to end its operations in the Mediterranean, the humanitarian groups that chartered the boat has said.

The vessel has been stranded in since early October after revoked the right to fly its flag following a request from Italy's far-right, anti-establishment government.

Last month also ordered the seizure of the Aquarius, which had been conducting rescue operations off since 2016, for allegedly dumping toxic waste.

"This is the result of a sustained campaign, spearheaded by the and backed by other European states, to delegitimise, slander and obstruct aid organisations providing assistance to vulnerable people," (MSF) said in a statement Thursday.

"Coupled with the EU's ill-conceived external policies on migration, this campaign has undermined international law and humanitarian principles. With no to these attacks, MSF and have no choice but to end operations by the Aquarius," it added.

said "giving up the has been an extremely difficult decision" but added that the group was "actively exploring options for a new boat".

According to Italian media, investigators suspect the vessel passed off 24 tonnes of potentially toxic waste as ordinary waste.

Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Catania are running the inquiry into migrant clothing, and sanitary waste that was handled at Italian ports from the and the Vos Prudence, another vessel chartered by MSF last year.

The have rescued thousands of migrants from the with immigration a hot-button issue in the

The says that about 15,000 migrants have drowned in the central since 2013.

During the same period has seen 600,000 migrants land on its coastline, while other European nations have closed their borders.

Italy's former centre-left government tried to stem the flow of migrants by working with the Libyan authorities and limiting the NGO effort.

Anti-immigrant Matteo Salvini, who came to power as part of a populist government in June, however, has since closed Italian ports to civilian and military boats that have rescued migrants, saying bears an unfair share of the migrant burden.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, December 07 2018. 04:00 IST