Humanity is failing the people fleeing from the terrible civil war in Syria. NGOs and action aid charities have saved more than 6,000 from drowning in 2017 alone, but is that enough? Million of people want escape from persecution. Despair has filled those left behind, and has not even evaded those who have crossed the border because the war isn’t over for them yet. The world is busy running permutations and combinations, calculating the politics of who becomes the saviour for these lost souls, but are doing very little to offer real protection and assistance to those in need. From contagious diseases to the restrictive borders there are scores of people lost at sea or worse left to die in their boats, abandoned by their home and abandoned by mankind.
This 6-minute animated film “Sorry I Drowned”, created by the Beirut-based Studio Kawakeb and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders, is inspired by a letter allegedly found on the body of a drowned Syian refugee, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. The anonymous letter was found in 2015 and went viral online. Due to the prevailing cynical politics of this day and age, the veracity of the letter seems unimportant to investigate, as it draws a strong parallel to the failure of any government to offer substantial help. While the real identity of the author of the letter remains a mystery, the film resonates with the need to take action about the tragedy that the refugee crisis has become.
In 2016, MSF’s Beirut/Cairo communications hub commissioned Studio Kawakeb, a Lebanese digital animation studio, to produce an Arabic animated film based on the letter. It took almost a year to finalize the product with the quality and effect necessary. On May 31, 2017, the film was privately screened at the Dar el-Nimer for Arts and Culture in Beirut to an audience of journalists, activists, influencers, artists, and others complemented by a discussion about the two key questions we are asking: How far would you go for a dignified, safe life? What reception would you expect?
When a refugee boat in late March drowned off the coast of Libya, upto 146 people including children and pregnant women sank with it into the Mediterranean Sea. This packed dinghy which launched from the smuggling hub of Sabratha on the morning of March 27, 2017 was not the only boat to start sinking after hours at sea. When nearly 250 refugees died in May after two migrant boats sank in the Mediterranean, death toll for record 2017 reached above 1,300 people. Some are lucky to be rescued, others succumb to the disaster. Children are among the most distressed of this persecution and displacement.
It has been two years since Doctors Without Borders started conducting Search and Rescue activities, realizing that and some people are still not aware of the gravity of the situation, thus attempting to raise awareness about the suffering that the refugees and migrants are enduring.
Europe’s alt-right group’s campaign to “chase down” refugee boats at sea has raised $100,000 by crowdfunding. The right wing anti-immigration youth group is attempting to physically block boats full of people coming from coming in. A report by the US-based Refugees International (RI) group has accused the EU of disregarding human rights and international law in its desperation to slow down the enormous amounts of boat crossings across the Mediterranean Sea. EU’s push to prevent these boats leaving the Libyan coast altogether (the main departure point towards Europe) could fuel horrific abuses. Libya’s state of civil war as allegations of torture, rape and killings have earned it the moniker “hell on Earth” among migrants, this film is almost like a cry for help that no one is listening.
According to the United Nations, over 1,600 refugees have already died crossing the sea in 2017. More than 71,000 migrants have traveled across the Mediterranean into Europe in just the first six months of the year. The animated film is a graphic description of a letter of a child to his mother as he describes all the things he is sorry for.
“Sorry I Drowned,” shakes you, breaks you and makes you rethink of all the luxuries you enjoy as a child is sinking or dying of hunger because of the horrors of a war we can’t even begin to imagine.
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