Migrant rescue ship funded by Banksy is impounded in Italy after responding to ... trends now
A migrant rescue ship funded by Banksy has been impounded in Italy after responding to distress calls in the Mediterranean, supposedly in breach of laws introduced by Rome's right wing government to clampdown on crossings.
The MV Louise Michel was seized on the island of Lampedusa on Sunday after Italy's coast guard said the boat had disobeyed its instructions to head to Sicily.
The coast guard said it had ordered the Louise Michel ship to dock in Trapani after it performed an initial rescue operation in Libya's Search And Rescue area, as it was required to do under a new Italian law decried by rights groups.
The ship, which has been funded by the British street artists since 2019, instead went on to assist migrants on three other boats in Malta's Search And Rescue area.
The coast guard added that it was already on its way to assist the three other boats at the time, one of which the crew of the Louise Michel said had capsized. The crew said the coast guard had ignored 'repeated' requests for assistance.
It ordered the Louise Michel to dock in accordance with the new law passed in Italy establishing a code of conduct for migrant charity ships, the coast guard said.
The MV Louise Michel (pictured) - a rescue ship funded by Banksy - was seized in Lampedusa on Sunday after Italy's coast guard said the boat had disobeyed its instructions to head to Sicily after carrying out a migrant rescue operation
The 30-metre long, pink and white Louise Michel, named after a French feminist anarchist, eventually docked in Lampedusa late on Saturday with 178 migrants on board, where it was impounded.
The coast guard said it wanted to prevent the ship from taking too many people on board, thereby putting their safety at risk.
Local authorities on Lampedusa said their reception facilities are now full.
The coast guard said that in the last 48 hours it had coordinated rescue operations for 58 boats, helping a total of more than 3,300 people.
The NGO Louise Michel said on its Twitter account that it was told that its ship was being seized due to a violation of the new Italian legislation and that it was ready to fight against the decision.
'We know of dozens of boats in distress right in front of the island at this very moment, yet we are being prevented from assisting. This is unacceptable!' it said.
'European authorities are fully aware of people in distress in their SAR zone. Still, they block #LouiseMichel from leaving port and rendering assistance. Several lives were lost in 2 shipwrecks yesterday.
'These deaths are not an accident nor a tragedy. They are wanted,' it added.
Earlier, it said that one of the three boats had capsized, leaving 34 people in the war.
'One of the boats capsized, the crew said on Twitter. 'And 34 people were recovered from the water at night. A mother and her unconscious baby had to be evacuated, along with another person in a life-threatening condition.
'An Italian coastguard vessel was also present, but ignored repeated calls for assistance for about 37 minutes before finally supporting, while people were in the water just in front of them,' the tweet said.
'Even after responding to multiple mayday relays from an aircraft about boats in distress, the Italian MRCC [Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre] repeatedly pressured the crew not to react accordingly, but to sail north without engaging in another rescue.'
In recent months, the hard-line Italian government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has made it harder for humanitarian vessels to operate, often assigning ships to ports farther north after a single rescue.
Italy's coast guard said it had ordered the MV Louise Michel (pictured) to dock in Trapani in Sicily after it performed an initial rescue operation in Libya's Search And Rescue area, as it was required to do under a new Italian law decried by rights groups. The ship, which has been funded by the British street artists since 2019, instead went on to assist migrants on three other boats in Malta's Search And Rescue area
In recent months, the hard-line Italian government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (pictured in Brussels on Friday) has made it harder for humanitarian vessels to operate, often assigning ships to ports farther north after a single rescue
That means the vessels need more time to return to the sea after bringing migrants aboard and taking them safely to shore.