In 2015, a “good-bye letter” was reportedly found in the pocket of one of the many Syrians drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea on their journey to Europe.
“Dear mom, I am sorry that the boat has drowned and I wasn’t able to make it to Europe,” the letter began. “I am sorry that I won’t be able to send you back the money you had to borrow for my boat trip. Don’t be sad if they never find my corpse in this wild sea; it won’t bring me back to you, it will only bring you more debt and more funeral, burial, and transportation expenses.”
A six-minute animated film, Sorry I Drowned, takes inspiration from the letter to reimagine the perilous life of a Syrian refugee. Created by the Beirut-based Studio Kawakeb and Médecins Sans Frontières, the film is a grim reminder that while drowning may have been the cause of death, countries that refused the refugees shelter were culpable.
According to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, close to 65 million refugees have been displaced, the largest number since World War II, and three countries – Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia – account for nearly half of that number. In 2017 alone, more than 1,500 refugees have died at sea.