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Aquarius docked in Marseille. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

Medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (known by its French acronym MSF) was forced last Thursday to shut down its search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean on board the vessel Aquarius, blaming a "dishonest smearing and obstructive campaign."

Why it matters: MSF International President Joanne Liu tells Al Jazeera in an interview: "We just can't understand why saving lives has become illegal." She added that MSF is examining whether there's any possibility of resuming operations in the future.

How difficult was it to continue operations in recent months and what forced you to stop them?

Liu: "The last few months, rescuing people in the Mediterranean was made more and more difficult for us. We were regularly blocked and impeded in trying to save lives. We tried to get a flag for several weeks but things didn't work out. First Gibraltar and then Panama, under increasing pressure from different states, decided to withdraw the flag. So we decided that we needed to close that sequence and see how we go forward."

What happens now with the Aquarius and the rescue mission?

Liu: "With the sabotage of the Aquarius, gone is the most basic humanitarian and legal commitment: saving lives at sea. For the time being, we are re-assessing so it's a bit too early to answer that. We can't resume unless we have a boat flag. There's no sign of that happening right now. We will talk to... countries and put forward what the reality is."

"It's clear that migration is a very, very politically loaded issue. Countries need to understand that human rights of a person do not disappear as soon as they cross the border."

What are the countries opposing your operations saying to this?

Liu: "Right now, it is being portrayed that the number of migrants reaching the shores of Europe is decreasing. That's being shown as a success story by these people. But on the flip side, that's because more and more people are being rescued by the Libyan coastguards and taken back to the filthy, overcrowded detention centers in Libya where almost 5,000 of them are living in inhumane conditions. We're telling them that the cost of their success is human lives and dignity."  

Go deeper: Read the full Al Jazeera report.

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.

Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial

Sarah Palin. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, delaying the start of her defamation trial against the New York Times.

Why it matters: The trial will be closely watched, as it's a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.

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