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Banksy funded refugee rescue boat patrolling Mediterranean in trouble

5 min read

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Banksy funded refugee rescue boat patrolling Mediterranean in trouble
Source: Ruben Neugebauer/TheGuardian

Controversial UK artist has financed a bright pink motor yacht that set sail in secrecy to avoid being intercepted by authorities. Now it is stranded with refugees on board and nobody will help!

Banksy funds refugee rescue boat

Controversial British street artist Banksy has financed a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from North Africa, The Guardian revealed on Thursday 27 August. The vessel, named Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, set off in secrecy on 18 August from the Spanish seaport of Burriana, near Valencia, and is now in the central Mediterranean where on Thursday it rescued 89 people in distress, including 14 women and four children. It is now looking for a safe seaport to disembark the passengers or to transfer them to a European coastguard vessel. Scroll down for latest news.

The boat's official Twitter account said it had so far rescued 89 people, including 14 women and four children, and was seeking a place of safety for them to disembark.
The 10-person crew is made of European activists, all of whom have experience in search and rescue. The boat’s official Twitter account said it had so far rescued 89 people, including 14 women and four children, and was seeking a place of safety for them to disembark. Source: Twitter/LouiseMichel

Infamous British street artist Banksy funds refugee rescue boat

British street artist Banksy is funding a boat crewed by volunteers to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean attempting to reach Europe from Africa, reported Reuters on Friday 28 August.

The boat, named Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, has been operational since last week. On Thursday it rescued 89 people, including 14 women and four children, from a rubber boat in distress, the group said on its website.

The 89 migrants are still onboard the boat and waiting for a safe port to disembark.

A former French Navy boat daubed in pink and white, the 30-metre long Louise Michel was bought with proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork, the group said. The side of the vessel’s cabin features an artwork of a girl holding a heart-shaped life buoy in his familiar stencilled style.

The group said the vessel was captained and crewed by a team of rescue professionals drawn from across Europe.

A PR agent who works for Banksy declined to comment.

Banksy, a Bristol-born artist who keeps his identity a secret, is known for his political or social-commentary graffiti that has popped up in cities around the world. Last year one of his paintings depicting primates sitting in Britain’s parliament sold for more than $12 million at auction.

Banksy has highlighted the plight of refugees and migrants in past works.

Source: Reuters 

“To uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice. We onboard 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. We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls - but our own.”
The stated mission of those on board Louise Michel: “To uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice. We onboard 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. We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls – but our own.” Source: ReutersTV

This big pink ship is the Louise Michel, an independent high speed lifeboat patrolling the Med

It might seem incredible there is need for a homemade emergency vehicle in one of Europe’s busiest waterways, but there is. The migrant crisis means that European states are instructing their Coastguard not to answer distress calls from ‘non-Europeans’ leaving desperate people to drift helplessly at sea. 

To make matters worse authorities prevent other boats from providing assistance, arresting crews and impounding boats that do. The Louise Michel is a former French Navy boat thats been customised to perform search and rescue. 

She is as agile as she is pink. Measuring 30 meters in length and capable of over 28 knots, she was bought with proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork – who then decorated her with a fire extinguisher. 

She is captained and crewed by a team of rescue professionals drawn from across Europe. She runs on a flat hierarchy and a vegan diet.

Source: MVLouiseMichel

The 31-metre motor yacht, formerly owned by French customs authorities, is smaller but considerably faster than other NGO rescue vessels.
Painted in bright pink and featuring Banksy artwork depicting a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy, the Louise Michel sails under a German flag. The 31-metre motor yacht, formerly owned by French customs authorities, is smaller but considerably faster than other NGO rescue vessels. Source: ReutersTV
This crisis is not a natural disaster. It is created by political decisions and a failure of humanity. It cannot be solved by lifeboats. If we want to sustainably stop the drowning we have to stop forcing people onto these boats.
The people at sea are not unlucky casualties of the elements. This crisis is not a natural disaster. It is created by political decisions and a failure of humanity. It cannot be solved by lifeboats. If we want to sustainably stop the drowning we have to stop forcing people onto these boats. Source: Facebook/MarnixGeus
Often confined to informal camps, the situation for migrants in Libya is desperate, with acts of systematic torture and rape long documented by human rights organisations.
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 7,600 migrants have been intercepted so far this year and returned to Libya, a war-torn country where different political factions continue to struggle for power. Often confined to informal camps, the situation for migrants in Libya is desperate, with acts of systematic torture and rape long documented by human rights organisations. Source: Facebook/MarnixGeus
With a top speed of 27 knots, the Louise Michel would be able to hopefully outrun the so-called Libyan coastguard before they get to boats with refugees and migrants and pull them back to the detention camps in Libya.
Rapid response. With a top speed of 27 knots, the Louise Michel would be able to hopefully outrun the so-called Libyan coastguard before they get to boats with refugees and migrants and pull them back to the detention camps in Libya. Source: Facebook/MarnixGeus

Why this vessel is needed

Please note: We appreciate Banksy is controversial. We know the whole migrant situation is complicated and divisive — but please, before you criticise these actions, remind yourself of why this is necessary.

Khaled Barakeh shared 7 heartbreaking images of drowned children washed ashore — these pathetic images are why this vessel is necessary. We won’t share these graphic and tragic pictures on BrightVibes, but we are sharing the link to remind those who would condemn Banksy’s actions to reconsider.

So please, if you can’t help, at least don’t condemn. 

Banksy funded rescue boat launches in the Mediterranean A boat funded by British artist Banksy has begun operating in the Mediterranean to help in the rescue of migrants in trouble at sea. The boat is named Louise Michel after the French feminist anarchist and is coloured with splashes of pink and adorned with several of the artist's pieces of work. Members of the German NGO Seawatch, onboard the vessel, say the ship has already rescued 89 people from flimsy boats in trouble at sea. Source: YouTube/TheGuardian
BREAKING NEWS: Banksy rescue boat stranded at sea with calls for help ‘ignored’ A migrant rescue boat financed by street artist Banksy has appealed for emergency help as it attempts to save the lives of 130 people stranded in a sinking dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea. One person aboard is understood to have already died and the dinghy is taking on water. But, despite the raft being located in the Maltese search and rescue zone, crew on Banksy’s boat – named Louise Michel after a French anarchist – have accused European authorities of not reacting adequately to the emergency. Source: YouTube/TheIndependent

Make an Impact

How To support

The M.V. LouiseMichel needs funding to do this work, fight legal cases and replace impounded equipment, and help spreading the word about these inhumane policies. #searescueisnotacrime The people at sea are not unlucky casualties of the elements. This crisis is not a natural disaster. It is created by political decisions and a failure of humanity. It cannot be solved by lifeboats. If we want to sustainably stop the drowning we have to stop forcing people onto these boats. So if you want to contribute - speak up against racism, join the movements for climate justice - take any kind of action to defend global respect for all forms of life, near or far.How societies manage migration is a complex issue that involves us all. But it should never be one that casually dispenses the death penalty.