Jubilant migrants picked up from Banksy-funded rescue ship celebrate

Jubilant migrants picked up from Banksy-funded rescue ship celebrate as they learn they have permission to land in Sicily

  • Migrants cheered and clapped today as they learned they would be able to run into the port of Palermo, Sicily 
  • 150 of the jubilant migrants were picked up from a Banksy-funded rescue boat that had become overcrowded 
  • Sea-Watch 4 has some 350 migrants on board and had been looking for a point of disembarkation 

Jubilant migrants picked up from a Banksy-funded rescue boat were seen celebrating as they learned they had been granted permission to land in Sicily. 

Civil rescue boat Sea-Watch 4 pulled more than 150 migrants from the dangerously overcrowded charity rescue boat the Louise Michel, a vessel funded by street artist Banksy, on Saturday. 

Images show the migrants cheering and clapping on Tuesday as they learned they would be able to run into the port of Palermo, Sicily, the next day. 

Migrants onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship cheer with crew member Alessandro (left) on sea off the coast of Sicily, Italy, on Tuesday as they learn that they have permission to run into the port of Palermo the next day

A young migrant hugs doctor Aniek Combak (right) onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship on sea off the coast of Sicily

Migrants onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship celebrate as they learn they will be able to run into the port of Palermo 

Sea-Watch 4 has some 350 migrants on board after 150 other passengers on that ship were transferred from Banksy’s rescue boat late Saturday and had been looking for a port of disembarkation. 

Sea-Watch 4, which had rescued 201 migrants before and was itself in search of a host port, decided to help the Louise Michel ‘in the face of the lack of reaction’ from the authorities, a spokesman for the German NGO Sea-Watch, which charters the boat with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), told AFP. 

Earlier on Saturday, Italian coastguards had reached the Louise Michel – stranded in waters between Malta and the island of Lampedusa – but were only able to rescue 49 of the most vulnerable passenger, including 13 children. 

The German-flagged Louise Michel had said it needed aid at the weekend after helping a boat carrying at least one dead migrant in the sea that divides Africa and Europe.

Its crew said the 101-foot ship had become overcrowded and unable to move, warning that some of the migrants had fuel burns and had been at sea for days. 

Sea-Watch 4 has some 350 migrants on board after 150 other passengers on that ship were transferred late Saturday and had been looking for a port of disembarkation

Migrants onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship celebrate with Sea Watch 4 crew member Rebecca (centre) on sea off the coast of Sicily on Tuesday 

Migrants onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship react on sea off the coast of Sicily, Italy, on Tuesday, as they learn that they have permission to run into the port of Palermo, Sicily, the next day

The former French navy vessel, named after a female anarchist, had been almost double its maximum safe capacity of 120 and was said to be ‘losing its balance’.

In an earlier tweet its crew had asked for urgent help, posting: ‘We repeat, #LouiseMichel is unable to safely move and nobody is coming to our aid.

‘The people rescued have experienced extreme trauma, it’s time for them to be brought to a #PlaceOfSafety. We need immediate assistance.’

Migration activists criticised Banksy for launching a rescue ship in the Mediterranean, saying it would only encourage people smugglers to put more migrants on small boats and send them towards Europe.

The German-flagged Louise Michel (pictured above) had said it needed aid at the weekend after helping a boat carrying at least one dead migrant in the sea that divides Africa and Europe

Crew members of civil sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 and medical Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on inflatable boats helped migrants to get off the rescue ship on Saturday 

Sea-Watch 4 crew members and medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) helped migrants from the Louise Michel to board Sea Watch 4 on Saturday 

The boat features some of Banksy’s trademark work, including a girl in a life vest holding a heartshaped safety buoy.

Banksy, who keeps his identity a secret, explained in an online video that he had bought the boat to help migrants ‘because EU authorities deliberately ignore distress calls from non-Europeans’.

Thousands of people are thought to have died making the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean to flee conflict, repression and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, attempts by migrant boats to cross the Mediterranean into Europe have increased this year, up 91 percent from January to July over last year’s figures, to more than 14,000 people.

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