On 2nd September 2015 Alan Kurdi drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in Europe. He was three years old. He was a Syrian refugee.
Sea Prayer, written by Khaled Hosseini, was inspired by the story of Alan Kurdi and is dedicated to the thousands of refugees who have perished at sea fleeing war and persecution.
Sea Prayer was first produced in collaboration with UNHCR and the Guardian as a virtual reality film released in September 2017. In September 2018 Sea Prayer was published in over 30 languages as a short story with illustrations by Dan Williams. Proceeds from the sale of Sea Prayer will go to The Khaled Hosseini Foundation and UNHCR to help fund life-saving support and build better futures for refugees around the world. It was released to coincide with UNHCR's Desperate Journeys report.
“As the drownings in the Mediterranean Sea sadly continue, I hope that Sea Prayer helps keep alive the memory of Alan Kurdi, and that it serves as 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. 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. We can show solidarity #WithRefugees in so many different ways. Please take action today.”
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Afghan-born American author Khaled Hosseini was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2006 and has demonstrated exceptional commitment to working on behalf of the millions of people around the work forced to flee their homes.
Khaled knows what it’s like to be a refugee. He was a teenager living in Paris, where his father worked as a diplomat, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 1979. His family ended up seeking asylum in the United States.
As a Goodwill Ambassador, Khaled has made several visits to see UNHCR's frontline work for refugees travelling to Lebanon, Italy, Afghanistan, Chad, Iraq, Jordan and Uganda. After one of his journeys back to Afghanistan, Khaled established The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, which partners with UNHCR and raises funds to build homes for thousands of refugee returnees.
Previous support and field visits
In June 2018 Khaled travelled to Lebanon where he met families splintered apart by one or more member making the heart-wrenching decision to take the desperate journey to Europe, and Italy (Sicily) where he met survivors of the sea crossing and visited the graves of those souls lost at sea trying to reach safety.
Khaled supports major UNHCR campaign moments through filmed messages and via his social media platforms including World Refugee Day, the iBelong campaign to end statelessness, and the Nansen Refugee Award. He is equally committed to supporting UNHCR’s fundraising efforts with the general public and with private sector partners.