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Rescue ship financed by artist Banksy saves 89 migrants

Pia Klemp. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A rescue ship financed by England-based graffiti artist Banksy saved 89 migrants attempting to reach Europe by boat on Thursday.

Late Thursday, The Guardian reported that the ship had succeeded in its first mission in the Central Mediterranean and saved 89 people who were travelling to Europe from North Africa, including 14 women and 4 children.

The ship is currently looking for a safe haven to disembark its passengers.

In true Banksy fashion, the 31-metre motor yacht was named after French anarchist and feminist Louise Michel and painted bright pink. The ship is notably faster than most other rescue ships, and sails under the German flag. Banksy’s famous ‘balloon girl’-artwork was adapted for the ship, which now sports the image of a little girl in a life jacket reaching out for a lifebuoy.

Banksy, famous for his political and controversial street art, contacted Louise Michel’s captain Pia Klemp in September 2019. The artist proposed to use the money he earned from his work to finance rescue missions.

Klemp has been involved in the rescue of thousands of people as the female captain of various seafaring missions organised by ngo’s. Klemp initially thought it was a joke when Banksy contacted her.

With the ship, Klemp said she hopes to outmanoeuvre the Libyan coast guard in the future, which has been accused of pulling refugee and migrant boats back to the shore and selling the passengers off to local militias.

The Libyan coast guard is known to collaborate with Member States of the European Union. The EU’s own border and coast guard agency, Frontex, only carries out rescue operations on request.

“I don’t see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight,” Klemp told The Guardian.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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