Rome | All passengers of the Louise Michel, chartered by the street artist Banksy, and who had launched a distress call, left the ship on Saturday, evacuated by the Italian coast guard for the most fragile, transferred to the humanitarian boat Sea-Watch 4 for the others.
• Read also: Banksy’s boat in Mediterranean calls for help after massive migrant rescue
The Italian coast guard, responding to distress messages launched in the Mediterranean by Louise Michel, evacuated the 49 most vulnerable people on Saturday as a priority.
“In view of the dangerousness of the situation, the coast guards sent a patrol boat from Lampedusa to the site which took on board the 49 people considered to be the most fragile, including 32 women, 13 children and 4 men”, they indicated. in a press release. The body of a deceased migrant was also evacuated towards Lampedusa (a small island in the south of Sicily).
The Louise Michel, who rescued a total of 219 migrants at sea in two operations, and which has only ten crew members, was then in “a search and rescue area” in the state of Malta.
But “due to the expected deterioration of maritime weather conditions in the region”, Malta contacted the Italian Coast Guard to carry out the operation.
“The Italian Coast Guard took 49 of the most fragile survivors! It’s great and that leaves us with a majority still waiting ”, reacted the crew of the Louise Michel on his Twitter account.
Transfers on Sea-Watch 4
Then, in the evening, all the other passengers were transferred to a humanitarian boat chartered by the German NGO Sea-Watch and the organization Médecins sans frontières (MSF), which came to meet him.
Sea-Watch 4, who had already rescued 201 migrants in the Mediterranean, said on his Twitter account that he had taken care of some 150 additional people, and now has around 350 people on board.
“A medical evaluation” of those transferred on board Saturday “is underway” in the clinic available to the boat, MSF Sea said on Twitter. They are particularly treated for “fuel burns, dehydration, hypothermia and traumatic injuries”.
“We demand a safe place for all survivors,” said the crew of the Louise Michel by announcing the transfer of all its passengers.
The Marinetraffic site indicated on Saturday evening that the Louise Michel and the Sea-Watch 4 are to the east of the Italian island of Lampedusa (south of Sicily).
At the same time, the left-wing Italian collective Mediterranea announced on Saturday the departure of its ship Mare Ionio from the port of Augusta, in Sicily, to also provide assistance to migrants from the Louise Michel.
According to the latest data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), attempts to leave are increasing in the Mediterranean, the deadliest migratory route in the world.
Between early January and late July, attempts to leave Libya increased by 91%, compared to the same period last year, accounting for 14,481 people who set sail.
The humanitarian ship Louise Michel had appealed for help on the night of Friday to Saturday, in particular lamenting a death on board.
The migrants collected for their part mentioned the death of three people at sea before their recovery, reports the boat chartered by Banksy.
After a first rescue on Thursday, the crew of Louise Michel had indicated to have recovered Friday 130 new migrants adrift aboard an inflatable boat which was taking water. The boat became overcrowded and unable to move forward, had to leave 33 people on a rescue boat moored at the Louise Michel until the arrival of the Italian Coast Guard.
Chartered in the greatest secrecy
The ship, named after a French anarchist of the XIXe century, is decorated with a graffiti by British artist Banksy depicting a little girl in a life jacket wielding a heart-shaped buoy. The most famous street artist in the world regularly addresses the issue of the migration crisis in his works.
Chartered in the greatest secrecy, she left Spain on August 18.
Its captain is Pia Klemp, a German human rights activist known to have driven several other rescue ships, including the Sea-Watch 3. It is still the subject of an investigation by the Italian justice, in particular for “aid to illegal immigration”.
The ten sailors of the Louise Michel all say they are “anti-racist and anti-fascist activists in favor of radical political changes”, according to the daily The Guardian got in touch with them.
The 31-meter-long boat is a former French customs vessel, small in size but considerably faster than the usual NGO ships operating in the area.
Banksy, who maintains the greatest mystery about his identity, explained in a video posted on the internet on Saturday that he bought the boat thanks to his financial success, because “the EU authorities are deliberately ignoring the distress calls from no Europeans ”, illustrating this accusation by the photo of a police officer asleep in front of a computer. “All black lives are important,” he concludes.