In 2015, an anonymous letter said to be written by a Syrian refugee went viral online. It was allegedly found on the body of a refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, although this has not been verified. Inspired by this letter, Beirut-based Studio Kawakeb and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), created a six-minute animated film, Sorry I Drowned. While we may not know of the truth behind who wrote the letter, we do know that what it depicts is real.
This reality cannot continue.
In 2015 alone, MSF teams on board three search and rescue ships in the Central Mediterranean assisted over 23,000 people in 120 separate rescue interventions. In the Aegean Sea, north of the island of Lesbos, MSF, in partnership with Greenpeace, assisted over 14,000 people crossing from Turkey to Greece. Overall, in 2015, MSF treated more than 100,000 people on the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and in Greece, Italy and the Balkans.
In 2016, when MSF resumed search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, MSF international president Joanne Liu said, "As crises and conflicts across the world continue to cause millions of people to flee, the absence of a global solution to the current refugee crisis, and the European states' policies of deterrence, as well their refusal to provide alternatives to the deadly sea crossing, continue to kill thousands. As humanitarians, we again refuse to look on from the shore."
There are more than 60 million people around the world currently displaced from their homes, the highest number since the Second World War. Many are fleeing persecution, poverty and war in their home countries, but are forced by official barriers into underground human-trafficking networks.
According to the United Nations, more than 1500 refugees have already died crossing the sea in 2017. More than 71,000 migrants have travelled across the Mediterranean into Europe in just the first six months of the year. This animated film is a graphic depiction of a letter from a child to a mother, describing what happened as a failure.
The world has catastrophically failed millions of people fleeing war, persecution and despair. Calculating politics won out over moral and legal obligations to offer protection and assistance to those in need. Like a contagious disease, walls, fences and restrictive border measures rampantly spread causing countless thousands of people to die on land or at sea.