Banksy’s migrant rescue boat detained by Italian coast guard for interfering with operations

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A rescue boat funded by British street artist Banksy will be out of service for the next three weeks after Italian authorities seized it Sunday for violating orders to abort a migrant rescue operation.

The crew of the MV Louise Michel announced its 20-day detention Monday, saying it will take “all necessary steps to fight this detention.”

“The only aim of the decree law is the blockage of Rescue ships, willingly taking into account the deaths of people on the move,” the ship’s crew wrote on Twitter.

The bright pink boat that’s named after a French feminist anarchist is impounded at a port in Lampedusa after the Italian coast guard accused the charity ship of breaking new rules about assisting with rescue operations, according to The Guardian.

The Louise Michel was first ordered to dock in Trapani over the weekend when it conducted a rescue in Libya’s Search And Rescue area, according to Reuters. The ship disobeyed the order and went on to conduct another rescue operation near Malta.

It had 180 migrants on board when it docked.

“[One day] after being told that our ship is detained, we still do not have an official written justification for the detention,” the crew of Louise Michel said on its Twitter account. “We know of dozens of [migrant] boats in distress right in front of the island at this very moment, yet we are being prevented from assisting. This is unacceptable!”

The coast guard said it was en route to conduct the rescues at the time the Louise Michel involved itself.  New protocols instituted by Italy’s right-wing government prohibit charity ships from interfering with government-led rescues.

Louise Michel’s detention comes weeks after a wooden vessel carrying 200 people seeking refuge fell apart near the beach of Cutro in Calabria, Italy. So far, the bodies of at least 90 people have been recovered, including dozens of children from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Pakistan.

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