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German Paper Lists 33,293 Refugees Who Have Died While Seeking Asylum in Europe

UNICEF/Tomislav Georgiev

More K. Dibanneh, Gambia: drowned. 

Fata Abdul, Yemen: suicide. 

Mohammad Eyman, Sudan: harassed and beaten to death by thugs in a camp near Norrent-Fortes in Calais, France. 

These are just three entries in a list of 33,293 refugees who have died while attempting to seek asylum in Europe, which was published in the German magazine Der Tagesspiegel last week. 

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The magazine published “The List,” an art piece originally created by Turkish artist Banu Cennetoglu, in order to “identify tens of thousands of dead as human beings with an origin, a past, [and] a life,” the authors wrote. 

“We want to honor them, on the one hand, and at the same time make it clear that each line also tells a story,” they added. 

The list is 48 pages, and spans from Jan. 1, 1993 to May 29, 2017. Many of the entries are anonymous, as the identity of the migrant or group of migrants was never determined. 

Libya-Migrant-Refugee-Crisis.jpgImage: Darko Bandic/AP

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The magazine chose to publish the list on Nov. 9 in remembrance of two salient moments in German history: the fall of the Berlin Wall and Kristallnacht, a night where thousands of Jews were arrested by the Nazis 

In all, 100,000 copies of the list were printed alongside the Der Tagesspiegel paper, according to the New York Times

The idea behind the initiative is to cast light on human toll behind the staggering statistics on global migration. 

Worldwide, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons is at an all-time high of 65 million people, according to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees. More than half of those refugees came from the countries of Afghanistan, Syria, and South Sudan. 

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In 2015, about 1.1 million migrants and asylum-seekers settled in Germany to take advantage of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s so-called “open-door” policy for migrants. That year, Merkel also set aside more than 6 billion euros to help resettle migrants in the country. 


Merkel later faced backlash from far-right groups like the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident (PEGIDA) and walked back some of her policies. 

The list published in Der Tagesspiegel is a reminder that amid the political debates over refugees and immigration, real human lives are at stake. And the paper issued a somber warning of that at the end of its article.

“The list is growing day by day,” the authors wrote.