Anonymous street artist and political activist, Banksy has focused much of his recent work on the current migrant crisis.
And in the last year, the artist has stepped up his involvement by funding the Louise Michel rescue boat to help refugees make it safely to Europe.
The ship, which travels from North Africa to Europe, is bright pink and has a large original work by Banksy plastered on the outside for all the sea to see—an image of a little girl holding onto a heart-shaped lifesaver.
“The Louise Michel is a former French Navy boat we’ve customized to perform search and rescue. She is as agile as she is pink,” reads the vessel’s official website.
“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.”
The team’s mission is “to uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice.”
And that doesn’t just pertain to refugees. “…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.”
The MV Louise Michel just refueled after the first successful rescue operations last week and is now going to a standby position, fully ready to rescue. #DefendSolidarity #LouiseMichel pic.twitter.com/64UGtZoHlC
— LouiseMichel (@MVLouiseMichel) August 25, 2020
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 100,000 migrants attempted to cross the Mediterranean last year from North Africa with more than 1,200 dying in the process.
So far the Louise Michel has rescued about 350 people at sea and helped them find another chance at life.