In 2019 elusive artist Banksy announced that he would finance a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa.
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.
Painted in bright pink with an extinguisher 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.
The crew, made up of European activists with long experience in search and rescue operations, had already assisted in two other rescue operations involving a total of 105 people, who are now onboard the NGO vessel Sea-Watch 4.
Donations are welcome to support the missions of the Louise Michel Lifeboat such as medical supplies, SAR equipment, legal fees, boat maintenance, fuel and food so they can continue to save lives.
Pictures courtesy of MV Louise Michel / Ruben Neugebauer
Update – 29 August 2020
After rescuing 219 persons, with unfortunately one person passing away before reaching the boat, the Italian Coastguard have evacuated 49 of the most vulnerable guests on board of Louise Michel. They still need the support of European Authorities.
You can follow their live feed here
and donate here www.mvlouisemichel.org