Three years ago, Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in Europe with his family. He was three years old.

Images of the toddler’s lifeless body lying on a Turkish beach sparked a surge of emotion that moved countless people worldwide to take action.

The number of arrivals in Europe has drastically decreased since Alan’s death in 2015, however families are still forced to make the desperate journey across the Mediterranean Sea to find safe refuge.

More than 1,500 people, including many children, have died or gone missing at sea this year.

Award-winning author and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Khaled Hosseini recently visited Italy with UNHCR to meet refugee families who had survived the crossing. All said they were driven by desperation and fear for the future of their children.

Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos, Greece, in an inflatable raft. ©UNHCR/A. McConnell

More than 1,500 people, including many children, have died or gone missing at sea this year. While fewer people are braving the Mediterranean crossing, the death rate has dramatically increased – one death for every 18 people who arrived in Europe so far this year.

Khaled’s latest book, Sea Prayer, is a tribute to Alan Kurdi and the thousands of people who have perished at sea fleeing war and persecution.

Written in the form of a letter, Sea Prayer is a father’s reflection as he watches over his sleeping son before their dangerous journey across the sea. It is also an account of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of the city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone.

As drownings in the Mediterranean Sea continue, Khaled hopes Sea Prayer will keep alive the memory of Alan Kurdi.

Desperate families in search of safety continue to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. ©UNHCR/A. Zavallis

Published earlier this month, author’s proceeds from the sale of the book will go to UNHCR to help provide live-saving support to refugees and displaced people around the world.

“I hope that Sea Prayer serves as a reminder of the unfathomable desperation that forces families to risk all they have in search of hope and safety on another shore, across the waters,” says Khaled.

“We all have an individual duty to let our friends, our families, our communities, our governments know we support refugees, that we want to see the expansion of safe, legal pathways for those in need of international protection, and when, if they should reach our own doorstep in search of safety and sanctuary that we welcome them.”

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Purchase Hosseini's moving illustrated short story, Sea Prayer, published by Bloomsbury Australia.
Author's proceeds support UNHCR's humanitarian relief for refugees and displaced people.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini is about a Syrian father and his son making the perilous journey by boat to seek refuge. ©Bloomsbury Publishing

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