Banksy Boat: Migrant Taxi Ship Funded by Artist Sets Sail For Mediterranean

TOPSHOT - Migrants stand on the rescue ship funded by British street artist Banksy "L
THOMAS LOHNES/AFP via Getty Images

A migrant taxi ship chartered by the British street artist Banksy has set sail for the Mediterranean Sea in an effort to pick up migrants and take them to Europe after putting its mission on hold for a year and a half.

The ship, the Louise Michel, has returned to pick up migrants in the Mediterranean after a hiatus since the summer of 2020 when it picked up 150 from near the coast of Libya.

The group running the ship wrote on Monday on social media platform Twitter that the vessel had returned to that Libyan search and rescue (SAR) zone and claimed to have picked up 31 people in a wooden boat while stating that 65 to 70 others had climbed onto an offshore oil platform to take shelter.

“Maltese authorities were informed and asked to coordinate repeatedly!” the group stated claiming that the site of the oil rig is part of the European SAR zone, the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants reported.

The Louise Michel, which is named after a 19th-century French anarchist, ended its previous mission in 2020 after the ship became stranded at sea in late August after picking up 200 migrants, which overloaded the vessel.

“#LouiseMichel is unable to move, she is no longer the master of her manoeuvre, due to her overcrowded deck and a liferaft deployed at her side, but above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance,” the activists on the ship wrote at the time.

In 2021, migrant taxi NGO vessels largely resumed their operations in the Mediterranean and offloaded hundreds of migrants at a time to Italy over the course of the year.

Late last month, nearly 800 migrants were aboard three NGO vessels waiting for Italian port access, many of which have since been admitted into Italian territory.

Along with migrant taxi NGOs, Italy saw a surge of migrants arriving in the country aboard various types of boats and ships. The island of Lampedusa, which is located between the island of Sicily and Tunisia, saw 35,000 arrivals in 2021, five times the size of the island’s population.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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