Banksy-funded rescue boat is helping to save refugees in Mediterranean

Support us and go ad-free

British street artist Banksy has funded a refugee rescue boat that is helping to save people encountering danger in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Louise Michel, a vessel that used to be owned by the customs authorities in France, launched under its new guise last week and features a painting from Banksy depicting a young girl holding on to a heart-shaped safety float.

The boat was renamed after a 19th-century French feminist anarchist, and is spattered in pink paint after the secretive artist “decorated her with a fire extinguisher”.

It was bought with the proceeds of some of Banksy’s works and is captained by a professional crew with a “flat hierarchy and a vegan diet”.

The Guardian reports that Banksy first made contact with Pia Klemp, an experienced captain of a number NGO boats, in September asking to help.

The vessel has already carried out a number of rescue missions, taking on board 89 people – including four children and 14 women – from a rubber boat on 25 August after receiving a distress call, according to its Twitter account.

The project aims to help fill a void left by European authorities, who the organisers say are “leaving desperate people to drift helplessly at sea”.

According to UN data, 443 people have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean from north Africa so far in 2020.

Just over 40,000 have arrived in Europe by sea during the same period.

The Louise Michel’s mission statement is “to uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice”.

“We on board the Louise Michel believe we are all individuals, nationality should not make a difference to what rights one has and how we treat each other,” it says on its website.

“We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls – but our own”.

Banksy’s representatives have been contacted for comment.

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop

 

The Canary Fund us