Banksy Has Funded A Rescue Ship To Help Refugees Crossing Seas
Popular street artist Banksy has funded a rescue boat to help refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa by sea.
The 30m-long vessel, which is named Louise Michel (a nod to a French feminist anarchist, don't ya know?), can reach speeds of 'over 28 knots'.
After setting off secretly from the Spanish seaport of Burriana, near Valencia, on 18 August, the Louise Michel has already been helping people - having rescued 89 people just yesterday.
Yesterday morning, #LouiseMichel responded to a distress call from #Moonbird air reconnaissance plane.
89 people were rescued and brought on board Louise Michel. The survivors need a Place of Safety now.#SolidarityAndResistance pic.twitter.com/HWde3hYFqT
- LouiseMichel (@MVLouiseMichel) August 28, 2020
"It might seem incredible there is need for a homemade emergency vehicle in one of Europe's busiest waterways, but there is," the ship's website says.
"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's mission statement is to 'uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice'.
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"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," it says.
"We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls - but our own."
After the vessel was customised to perform search and rescue operations, Banksy also 'decorated her with a fire extinguisher', making her 'as agile as she is pink'.
Decoration aside, according to The Guardian, Banksy's involvement in the project stems back to September 2019 - when he emailed someone called Pia Klemp, the former captain of several NGO boats that have rescued thousands over recent years.
"I am an artist from the UK and I've made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can't keep the money," Banksy wrote in the email.
"Could you use it to buy a new boat or something?"
Klemp, who initially thought it was a joke, believes she was chosen by the artist due to her political stance, telling the newspaper: "I don't see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight."
She also explained that Banksy's involvement was merely financial, adding: "Banksy won't pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won't pretend to be artists."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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