The ship has been trapped at the French port in Marseille since Panama revoked its flag earlier this year—citing pressure from Italian officials—and smears have continued since then. As the Guardian reports:

MSF said in a tweet that the “sustained attacks” have forced it to end the ship’s rescue missions.

Despite the announcement, the groups have vowed to continue trying to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees in the region. Frédéric Penard, head of operations of SOS MEDITERRANEE, explained that “ending operations of the Aquarius vessel was an extremely difficult decision to make, but one that will enable our teams to resume search and rescue work as soon as possible.”

“We refuse to remain idle on shore as people continue to die at sea,” he added, noting that the group is already exploring options for a new flag or ship. “As long as people will continue attempting the most dangerous sea crossing in the world, SOS MEDITERRANEE will fulfill its maritime duty, responding to the emergency by all professional means possible.”

This post has been updated with comment from Amnesty International secretary general Kumi Naidoo.

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