The British street artist Banksy has financed a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa.
According to the Guardian, the name of the vessel is Louise Michel, the name of a French feminist anarchist.
The boat, which had also been decorated with Banksy’s art, rescued eighty nine people in distress – including fourteen women and four children – last Thursday in the central Mediterranean. Since then, it has rescued 219 people off the coast of Libya.
United Nations agencies called for the “urgent disembarkation” of rescued passengers from the Louise Michel, and the Italian coastguard obliged.
The Louise Michel represents the latest intervention by members of civil society seeking to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean. Other Non-Government Organisation (NGO) rescuers have engaged in rescue activities this year but have been impeded by what they consider to be excessive and politically motivated inspections carried out by the Italian authorities.
Covid-19 ‘lockdowns’ and restrictions have also affected sea rescue activities in recent weeks, with NGO crews unable to return to the central Mediterranean because of this.
So far, in 2020, more than five hundred refugees and migrants are known to have drowned in the Mediterranean sea, and the real number is estimated to be far higher.