Artist Banksy, whose identity remains unknown although he’s become rather popular, now has a boat. And in true fashion, it’s decorated with his art— but it’s not a boat he bought for fun. The British artist bought it to rescue migrants who are fleeing Libya for Europe.
Usually refugees are found on flimsy rafts or boats, and Banksy’s new boat, the "Louise Michel," named after a French anarchist, will help people get to where they're going more safely.
The bright pink boat, which has artwork similar to his famous work, “The Girl With the Balloon,” will be operated by the German organization Seawatch and has 10 crew members. The Louise Michel project said it hopes to "uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice."
Banksy’s boat, which spans 30 meters, has already picked up nearly 100 people from the choppy waters since it set sail on Aug. 18 They’re still on the Louise Michel as Seawatch negotiates to find a safe place to disembark.
"After dealing with dehydration, fuel burns and injuries from the torture they suffered in Libya, they have a moment of respite," The Louise Michel Twitter page posted Friday.
Italian authorities do not want to encourage people to make the trip, though.
More than 100,000 migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean last year from North Africa, but more than 1,200 died on the way, according to the International Organization for Migration.
“The #LouiseMichel exists because current European policy is to deliberately ignore distress calls and let people drown. States are relying on civilians to prevent mass loss of life in the Med,” the organization also tweeted.