London: British street artist Banksy has accused European officials of ignoring maritime distress calls from non-Europeans after he helped fund a rescue vessel to deliver humanitarian aid to migrants who have been stranded in the central Mediterranean for days.
Hundreds of migrants were transferred to several rescue ships on Saturday as international aid groups urged European officials to let them come ashore. One of the vessels, the Louise Michel, was funded by Banksy.
According to a series of posts on the Louise Michel’s Twitter account, the ship set out Thursday to help 89 people on a rubber dinghy. During its mission, it came across another ship with about 130 people, who were also rescued. At that point, with more than 200 people aboard, the Louise Michel’s crew of 10 could no longer steer the ship and issued a distress call.
The ship was near Lampedusa, an Italian island off the African coast that has become a gateway to Europe for migrants. The Italian Coast Guard, responding to the distress call, said it had taken in 49 passengers it considered the most vulnerable, as well as the body of a migrant who had died before being transferred to the Louise Michel.