Artist Banksy Funds Boat to Ship Illegal Aliens from Africa to Europe
British graffiti artist pays for pink boat to transport illegal immigrants into the EU
British graffiti artist Banksy has paid for a pink boat to collect illegal aliens from Africa and ship them into Europe, according to reports.
The boat will pick up North African migrants, looking to travel illegally across the Mediterranean Sea, and transport them to European Union gateway countries such as Greece and Italy.
Organizers say the boat is already in operation and has so far collected dozens of illegal immigrants to deliver to Europe.
The 31-meter motor yacht features some of Banksy's trademark art, including a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy.
The vessel is named Louise Michel after a 19th-century female French anarchist and teacher.
So far, rescued 89 migrants have been transported across the sea, the boat's official Twitter account announced.
The Bristol artist initiated the project when he emailed the former captain of several NGO rescue boats, Pia Klemp, according to The Guardian.
The paper says 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."
Yesterday morning, #LouiseMichel responded to a distress call from #Moonbird air reconnaissance plane.— LouiseMichel (@MVLouiseMichel) August 28, 2020
89 people were rescued and brought on board Louise Michel. The survivors need a Place of Safety now.#SolidarityAndResistance pic.twitter.com/HWde3hYFqT
Klemp told the paper that the Bristol artist's involvement was purely financial: "Banksy won't pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won't pretend to be artists."
The 10-person crew is made of European open-borders activists, all of whom have experience in search and rescue.
The boat's launch on 18 August from the Spanish seaport of Burriana, near Valencia, was kept secret, and news of the mission has only been released after it went into operation.
The MV Louise Michel just refueled after the first successful rescue operations last week and is now going to a standby position, fully ready to rescue. #DefendSolidarity #LouiseMichel pic.twitter.com/64UGtZoHlC— LouiseMichel (@MVLouiseMichel) August 25, 2020
The boat, which flies under a German flag, is a former French navy vessel.
While it is fairly small, the yacht has a top speed of 27 knots and so is considerably faster than other NGO rescue vessels.
It will be attempting to outrun Libyan coastguards, who regularly accost refugees in transit and return them to Libya.
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."
Over 7,600 migrants have been discovered at sea and returned to Libya so far this year, according to figures from the International Organisation for Migration.
On Wednesday, 45 people - including five children - died when the engine on their boat exploded off Libya, in the country's deadliest shipwreck this year.
According to UN data, 443 people have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa so far in 2020.
More than 40,000 have arrived in Europe by sea during the same period.
Libya has been an ungoverned state since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011 and is now in a state of conflict as a series of competing groups struggle for power.