Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The migrant rescue ship Aquarius is ending its operations in the Mediterranean Sea after Doctors Without Borders said Thursday the Italian government intervened.
Doctors Without Borders said in a statement a "sustained campaign" has been waged against the ship that has transported numerous migrants at sea. The Aquarius has so far rescued more than 80,000 people escaping war, poverty and other conditions in their home countries.
The Aquarius has not left the dock in Marseille, France, since October, when Panama refused to grant the vessel a request to continue under its flag after being pressured by Italian authorities, The Telegraph reported.
"Sustained attacks on search and rescue by European states will mean more deaths at sea and more needless deaths that will go unwitnessed," Doctors Without Borders tweeted.
Last month, Italy seized the ship on suspicions it was dumping toxic waste.
"This is a dark day," Nelke Manders, Doctors Without Borders general director, said in a statement. "Not only has Europe failed to provide search and rescue capacity, it has also actively sabotaged others' attempts to save lives."
The organization said more than 2,100 migrants have died in the Mediterranean this year, most from Libya. It said the Libyan coast guard has intercepted more than 14,000 at sea.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who took office in June riding an anti-immigrant stance, has shut down the country's ports to ships that rescue migrants at sea -- saying it's been shouldering an unfair burden of the European migrant crisis.
The populist Italian government on Friday began removing immigrants from "welcome centers" built to protect them on humanitarian grounds.