Wednesday, 03 March, 2021


Banksy buys boat to rescue migrants

Provided by The Canadian Press Provided by The Canadian Press
Bennie Garza | 31 August, 2020, 10:56

A Banksy-funded refugee rescue boat is stranded in the Mediterranean Sea and emergency calls for immediate help have been ignored, ship leaders have said. After the crew of the Louise Michel said Italy, Malta, and Germany had ignored its calls for help, Italy's patrol took 49 of the most at-risk passengers off the Louise Michel.

After a first rescue on Thursday, the crew of Louise Michel had indicated that they had recovered on Friday 130 new migrants adrift in an inflatable boat taking on water.

"Given the danger of the situation, the coastguard sent a patrol boat to Lampedusa which took in 49 people deemed the most fragile, including 32 women, 13 children and four men", said a coastguard statement.

The statement, by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization of Migration, called for "the immediate disembarkation of more than 400 rescued migrants and refugees now on board three vessels in the Central Mediterranean".

One had died; some were suffering from fuel burns, another message said.

"A medical assessment" of those transferred on board Saturday "is underway" in the clinic on the boat, MSF Sea said on Twitter.

The Italian coast guard escorted the fishing vessel to port Saturday night, where Lampedusa residents staged a protest, with some lying down, yelling "Enough!"

"They must be urgently transferred and disembarked from the Louise Michel, which is now well beyond its safe-carrying capacity after carrying out a sunrise rescue this morning", the UNHCR and IOM said.

Official data provided by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) indicated that more than 19,500 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to either Italy or Malta over the past eight months and that at least 550 migrants have died when trying to reach Europe.

The artist, whose identity is unknown, reached out to German human rights activist Pia Klemp in September 2019 and offered to buy the rescue mission a new boat.

At the same time, the left-wing Italian collective Mediterranea announced on Saturday the departure of its ship Mare Ionio from the port of Augusta, in Sicily, to also provide assistance to migrants from Louise Michel .

A picture of a girl wearing a life jacket and holding a heart-shaped lifebuoy has been painted on the side of the Louise Michel.

More than 200 people are said to be on board the vessel, which is reportedly stranded.

The evacuation came amid a migration crisis that Europe has been experiencing since 2015 due to the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing crises in their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Some 200 are on the Sea Watch 4, a German charity ship, while 27 have been on board the commercial tanker Maersk Etienne since their rescue on August 5.

Klemp told the newspaper that she believed she was chosen by the artist for her political position saying, "I don't see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight".

The ship's crew appealed for help and a safe port earlier Saturday, saying that it had rescued so many people that it could no longer safely navigate.

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