Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, recently released a short story titled Sea Prayer on the 2nd anniversary of the death of Alan Kurdi in the Mediterranean. Kurdi was a three-year-old Syrian boy fleeing the country’s civil war, and his drowning on September 2nd transformed him into a symbol of the refugee crisis and the 8,500 others who would die crossing the sea after him. This little story was animated by The Guardian as a 360 film—try clicking and dragging along as the narrative unfolds in the video below.
Hosseini himself was a refugee; his family applied for asylum in the United States when he was an 11-year-old Afghani. As a result, Hosseini escaped the violence of the Soviet invasion, the civil war, and the 16-year-long U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.
While a 360 video is a maybe a bit gimmicky when considering how serious the subject matter is, Hosseini’s Sea Prayer and personal history serve to remind us about the unprecedented crisis taking place. It’s been several years since the refugee crisis was regularly making headlines, but that doesn’t mean it’s over. The United Nations Refugee Agency reports 1.1 million Syrian displacements in the first half of 2017 alone. To be fair, things are starting to look up. In that same time period, over 600,000 refugees returned home.
If you’re not on your global politics game at the moment, or just generally feel out of your depth on Syria, I would recommend reviewing Vox’s short video on the Syrian Civil War. Since this is the global politics equivalent of the very goddam deep end, I would also recommend reading Robert Worth’s A Rage for Order, which charts the progress of the Arab spring and the beginnings of the Syrian Civil War and Isis.