Banksy has funded a ship to rescues refugees who get into difficulty while trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa.
The vessel sailed from the Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia, on August 18 and on Thursday the boat, named after 19th Century French anarchist Louise Michel, rescued 89 people including 14 women and four children.
The ship, which has the word ‘rescue’ in pink on the side, is now looking for a safe port for the passengers to disembark in or a European coastguard boat to transfer them to.
Activists with experience in search and rescue are crewing the boat which has also already helped with two other operations that rescued more than 100 people.
It set off from Spain under a shroud of secrecy to make sure European authorities could not block the rescue boat.
Banksy has financed the boat, the Louise Michel, which rescued 89 migrants in distress trying to reach Europe from north Africa
The 102 foot long motor yacht used to be owned by the French customs authorities and is quicker than many of the other rescue ships used by NGOs in the Mediterranean, according to the Guardian.
Banksy’s has been involved in rescuing migrants at sea since last September, when he emailed German born activist Pia Klemp who has captained a number of NGO rescue ships.
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He wrote: ‘Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass.
‘I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.’
A visitor takes photos of the works of art in the exhibition ‘The World of Banksy’ on August 25, 2020 in Barcelona
At least 500 people are known to have died this year while crossing the Mediterranean
Ms Klemp said that the artist’s role is strictly financial backing, she told the Guardian: ‘I don’t see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight
‘Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists.’
At least 500 people are known to have died this year while crossing the Mediterranean but the true death toll is likely even higher.
Forty five people, including five children, died on Wednesday after their boat’s engine blew up off the Libyan coast according to the UN.
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