The Malta Independent 22 May 2019, Wednesday

Migrant rescue ship Aquarius ends operations in the Mediterranean

Friday, 7 December 2018, 14:49 Last update: about 7 months ago

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and its Partner SOS Mediterranee have been forced to terminate operations by the search and rescue vessel Aquarius, the organisations said in a statement on Thursday.

The stated that as a result of a “sustained campaign, spearheded by the Italian government and backed by other European states, to delegitimise, slander and obstruct aid organisations providing assistance to vulnerable people”, the Aquarius has remained in port over the past two months.


The NGO also placed blame on the “EU’s ill-conceived external policies on migration” for undermining international law and humanitarian principles.

“With no immediate solution to these attacks, MSG and SOS MEDITERRANEE have no choice but to end operations by the Aquarius.”

The MV Aquarius brought in 141 immigrants on 15 August, after being stranded at sea for many days as no country was willing to take them in until the deal that was brokered by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

The vessel also transferred 58 persons on a Maltese asset in international waters in September, who were brought to Malta and then immediately redistributed to another four European Union member states.

The Aquarius’ last active period of search and rescue ended on 4 October 2018, when it arrived in the port of Marseille following the rescue of 58 people.

According to their stattement, together with MSF’s previous search and rescue vessels – the Bourbon Argos, Dignity, Prudence and Phoenix – MSF has rescued or assisted more than 80,000 people in the Mediterranean Sea since 2015.

“As long as people are drowning and trapped in Libya, MSF remains committed to finding ways to provide them with medical and humanitarian care,” says Kleijer.

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