Banksy, who is an anonymous England-based street artist and political activist, has been touching on the topic of the migrant crisis with his works for quite a while now. Recently, he/she (or they?) went one step further by funding the Louise Michel rescue boat to help refugees make it safely to Europe.

The ship is aimed to help those traversing from North Africa to Europe. Louise Michel is painted in a bright pink color and has Banksy’s artwork on it depicting a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy.

This independent high-speed lifeboat was named after the 19th-century French feminist anarchist Louise Michel

Image credits: mvlouisemichel

Apparently, back in September 2019, Banksy sent a message to the captain of a number of NGO boats, Pia Klemp, because he wanted to help. “Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” Banksy’s letter read. “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.”

At first, Klemp thought that this letter was just a joke

Image credits: mvlouisemichel

The artist’s involvement is not hands-on: Banksy’s financially backing everything that the team is doing without being active in the operations, run by a 10-person crew of European activists. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” Pia Klemp told The Guardian.

“Measuring 30 meters in length and capable of over 28 knots, she was bought with proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork—who then decorated her with a fire extinguisher”


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“The Louise Michel is a former French Navy boat we’ve customised to perform search and rescue. She is as agile as she is pink. Measuring 30 meters in length and capable of over 28 knots, she was bought with proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork—who then decorated her with a fire extinguisher. She is captained and crewed by a team of rescue professionals drawn from across Europe. She runs on a flat hierarchy and a vegan diet,” reads the official website of the Louise Michel rescue boat.

The Louise Michel left the Spanish port of Burrinia in secret on August 18th

Image credits: MVLouiseMichel

“To uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice,” the team describes their mission on the website. “We onboard 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. We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls—but our own.”

Image credits: seawatch_intl

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 100,000 migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean last year from North Africa with more than 1,200 dying in the attempt

Image credits: MVLouiseMichel

Turns out, the whole planning of the mission happened in secrecy between London, Berlin, and Burriana. The crew didn’t want media attention to compromise their goals because it could have lead to European authorities attempting to thwart the mission. For this reason, the team agreed to release the news about the boat only after carrying out the first rescue.

As of now, the crew has rescued approximately 350 people

Image credits: MVLouiseMichel

Apparently, a few days ago, the Louise Michel sent a distress call saying it was overloaded with migrants. Because of that, several of the most vulnerable ones were picked up by the Italian coast guard and the rest were transferred onto another vessel. “#LouiseMichel no longer has guests onboard, but the struggle of the survivors is not over,” the Louise Michel team wrote on their Twitter.

Image credits: MVLouiseMichel

Some people were praising this idea

While others had quite different opinions