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European authorities ignore Louise Michel’s calls for a port of safety

Crew member tells The Civil Fleet that tensions could rise as the 48 rescued wait for three days while the Italian coastguards saves others

EUROPEAN maritime authorities have ignored at least three requests made by the crew of an activist-run refugee rescue ship that is within sight of land.

The Louise Michel, a rescue ship funded in part by the British graffiti artist Banksy, is home to 48 people, and is currently off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The crew found them in an overcrowded wooden boat on Tuesday morning after they were alerted by the activist-run distress hotline organisation Alarm Phone the night before.

The Louise Michel’s crew rescues 48 people in the central Mediterranean [Pic: Louise Michel]

An activist aboard the Louise Michel told The Civil Fleet today that the rescued are exhausted due to seasickness and being exposed to the weather.

“They’re sleeping on open deck,” they said.

“We are doing our best to take care of our guests, but the ship is really small and not equipped to accommodate such a large number of people for this amount of time.

“We also overheard two distress cases today near to Lampedusa. We stood by while the Italian coastguard performed the rescues.

“Witnessing that is leading to more tensions on deck. And also, the rescued have seen the island already.”

According to international maritime law, a rescue cannot be considered completed until the rescued have reached a safe port.

A Libyan coastguard vessel [Pic: Louise Michel]

The Louise Michel rescued 91 people in the Libyan search-and-rescue zone last week, on September 29.

It was a tense rescue operation as the crew got word that the EU-supported Libyan Coastguards were bearing down on their position. Fortunately, everyone was brought aboard the ship safely before the Libyans could intercept them.

The crew was kept at sea for two more days before the Italian authorities finally allowed them to come ashore.


Top image shows some of the rescued huddled aboard the Louise Michel. [Pic: Louise Michel]

Published by Ben Cowles

Is a journalist and podcaster

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