The British street artist Banksy has financed and decorated a bright pink rescue boat to help save the lives of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe.
The ship, which has been named “Louise Michel” after a French anarchist, is a former French navy vessel that Banksy purchased using proceeds from his artwork, according to the new search and rescue mission.
On its website, the Louise Michel project said it aims to “uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice.”
The artist decorated it with a fire extinguisher and created an image of a girl in a life jacket reaching out to a heart-shaped lifebelt.
The artwork is similar in style to Banksy’s famous “Girl with Baloon” stencil murals.
It has already carried out a number of rescue missions, taking on board 89 people from a rubber boat on Tuesday, according to its Twitter account.
The vessel features a painting depicting a young girl holding on to a heart-shaped safety float.
The Louise Michel took on board people from a rubber boat after receiving a distress call on Tuesday
Banksy repainted the former French Navy boat in distinctive white and pink and launched it under its new guise last week.
The Louise Michel is named after a 19th Century French anarchist and is captained by a professional crew with a “flat hierarchy and a vegan diet”.
The vessel’s mission statement is “to uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice”.
“We on board 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,” it says on its website.
“We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls – but our own.”
A total of 89 people were brought on board the boat after a rescue mission earlier this week
According to UN data, 443 people have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean from north Africa so far in 2020.
Just over 40,000 have arrived in Europe by sea during the same period.
Banksy’s representatives have been contacted for comment.