The Guardian recognized World Refugee Day in a very powerful way.
The U.K. newspaper published a 64-page spread in its Wednesday edition listing the names of 34,361 known refugees who have died in the past 25 years while attempting to flee their home country and immigrate to Europe. The Guardian published the list in collaboration with artist Banu Cennetoğlu and United for Intercultural Action, an organization that tracks refugee crises.
“It exposes a terrifying truth of mounting human misery, of utterly preventable death stretching back more than 25 years ― and of a failure of imagination by the world’s biggest bloc of liberal democracies. That is why The Guardian is publishing it in full today,” The Guardian’s special projects editor, Mark Rice-Oxley, said in a press release Wednesday.
The list includes what is known of the name, gender and age of the person, their country of origin, and how and when they died. The refugees listed include children as young as 2 months old, along with adults as old as 66.
Some of the refugees’ place of origin is not known. In cases where it is known, the individuals come from all over the world: Most recently, the majority are from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, but in earlier years many are from Eastern Europe, such as Bosnia, Albania and Poland.
The heart-wrenching list includes groups as large as 500 who died as recently as 2016. One part lists a group of 500 migrants (100 children and 400 adults) who came from Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia and Syria, and according to the list, “drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after smugglers tried to combine passengers of 2 boats from Libya and Egypt.”
Another part of the list highlights a Nigerian man named Shiji Lapite, 34, who suffocated to death in 1994 after a London police officer put him in a headlock during an arrest. Over 300 of the refugees died by suicide.
“I believe in the power of printed material and its impact especially in the case of The List,” Cennetoğlu said in a press release. “I hope the dissemination and the contextualisation through The Guardian and its editors will remind people of the capacity they do have to interfere on those fatal policies and their makers.”
For U.S. readers, the Guardian’s list really hits home as the Trump administration recently implemented its controversial zero tolerance immigration policy.
Thousands of people who attempted to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border have been detained ― some behind chain-link fences ― in processing centers around the country. More than 2,300 children were separated from their families at the border between May 5 and June 9. Many babies and young children have been sent to “tender age” shelters.