Migrant rescue ship accuses Italy of inventing faults to hinder operations

Sea-Watch 3 rescue vessel was allowed to disembark 47 migrants in Catania, Italy, on Thursday after a political impasse left them stranded off the coast of Sicily for nearly two weeks.

(CNN)The migrant rescue organization Sea-Watch has accused Italian authorities of inventing irregularities to block its ship from leaving the port of Catania, delaying its return to patrolling the Mediterranean Sea.

The Italian Coast Guard said Friday that the ship would be prevented from leaving until it rectified "safety of navigation" faults and other issues.
On Thursday, after waiting for nearly two weeks for the Italian government's permission to come ashore, Sea-Watch 3 disembarked 47 migrants in Catania. The impasse ended after five European countries offered to take in the migrants -- an ad hoc solution that has become increasingly common since Italy's hardline Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, closed the country's ports to migrant boats last June.
    Migrants aboard the Sea-Watch 3 vessel disembark in the port of Catania on January 31.
    In a statement, Sea-Watch said there was political pressure on the coast guard to block the ship from departing.
    "This is a clear political move, with supposed irregularities invented only to prevent the Sea-Watch 3 from sailing," the German non-profit organization said.
    Chairman of Sea-Watch Johannes Bayer said the move to block rescue missions has turned the Mediterranean into a "human rights-free zone."