• British street artist Banksy funds boat to rescue refugees trying to reach Europe from North Africa that set sail from Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia

By Andrew Atkinson

British street artist Banksy has funded a boat to rescue refugees trying to reach Europe from North Africa, that set sail from Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia.

The Central Mediterranean reportedly rescued 89 migrants, including 14 women and four children, who were in a boat.

The ship, named Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, secretly set sail on August 18 from the Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia, and is now in the central Mediterranean, seeking a safe seaport to disembark the  passengers, or transfer them to a European Coast Guard vessel.

Louise Michel rescued 89 people from a rubber boat in distress.  The survivors are now safe on board the ship.

A message on Twitter on the ship’s official website read: This new rescue ship in the central Mediterranean, painted pink and with the drawing of a girl in a life jacket holding a heart-shaped float, made by the artist whose true identity is unknown.

The crew, made up of European activists with long experience in search and rescue operations, had already assisted in two other rescue operations, involving 105 people, now on board the NGO ship Sea-Watch  Four.

Louise Michel is a former French Navy ship that we have customized for search and rescue. It was bought with the proceeds from the sale of art by Banksy, who later decorated it.

It is captained and manned by a team of rescue professionals from all over Europe.

Banksy’s involvement in the rescue mission dates back to September 2019, when he sent an email to Pia Klemp, the former captain of several NGO ships that have rescued thousands of people in recent years.

This ship joins the Sea-Watch 4, operated by the homonymous German NGO and Doctors without Borders, which recently rescued 201 migrants and was awaiting a decision from the Italian and Maltese authorities to disembark.

The Astral sailboat of the Spanish NGO Open Arms has also been active in the Sicilian Channel area to participate in the rescue of migrants. Photo: Twitter.

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