British artist Banksy has financed a boat that rescues refugees in the Mediterranean, reports The Guardian. On Thursday, the boat rescued 89 people, including 14 women and children.
The ship, called Louise Michel, secretly departed the harbor in Burriana, Spain, near Valencia on August 18. There would have been fears that European countries would try to block their mission. The crew members are European activists who have previously been involved in two other rescue missions that saved a total of 105 people.
The boat, which sails under the German flag, is painted bright pink and features a work of art by Banksy on the side. The artwork shows a girl wearing a life jacket holding on to a lifebuoy in the shape of a heart.
Banksy, who reflects political and social themes in his work, is said to have sent an email in September last year to Pia Klemp, the former captain of several lifeboats that have saved thousands of people in recent years. The artist approached her because, in his own words, he was impressed by her story.
Klemp emphasizes that Banksy is only financially involved in the boat’s rescue missions. “Banksy will not pretend he knows better how to steer a ship and we will not pretend we are artists,” said the former captain.
The Louise Michel is currently still looking for a safe harbor to moor the rescued passengers or to hand them over to the European coastguard.