Refugee Stories: Life-threatening sea journeys

War has forced
to flee their homes

Tens of thousands
risk death
by taking to the sea

Hosein’s Story, Greece

Their boat heading for Greece sunk at high seas. Hosein’s mother and sister are missing. “I am sure they are alive. I will not abandon the search….”

Being human

Photojournalist Darrin Zammit Lupi writes about his experience in covering boat arrivals to Malta in 2014…

Indonesia : Saransika’s Journey

Indonesia : Saransika’s  Journey

  Length: 2:51 Views: 2

Ahmed’s Story, Syria

Journalist Boglarka Balogh tells how Ahmed lost eight members of his family at sea, when their boat sank with hundreds of Syrian refugees on board…

Find out more about UNHCR’s Global Initiative on Protection at Sea and
the High Commissioner’s Dialogue 2014

Minara’s Story, Myanmar

Journalist Kristy Siegfried tells how Minara paid for their dangerous passage with her wedding ring…

Italy: Haunted by a Sinking Ship

Italy: Haunted by a Sinking Ship

  Length: 2:53 Views: 1,767

Mislaidy’s Story, Colombia

Mislaidy, a Cuban refugee, is happy to be in Colombia, after sailing for seven days …

Shookrullah Alizadah’s story, from Afghanistan to Sweden

We drank sea water to survive. Then, in the middle of the sea the boat’s GPS broke down…

We spent four hours on the sea, bailing out water and praying to Allah. The waves had taken us far.

Amina from Afghanistan received a warning from herhusband’s family that her children weren’t safe. The cousins are still chasing them…

Marwan’s Story, Greece

Despite losing his right arm and left eye from a shell explosion, Marwan swam to Greece in order to apply for asylum and get proper medical care.

It was a nightmare that you cannot wake up from, and it will never leave me

I looked around and all I saw was the open sea. At that moment, I feared for my life. I had no air to breathe because the place was overcrowded, my legs started to feel numb from the way I was sitting. We had neither food nor water…

Sahara’s story, Slovakia

We walked all the way to the shores of Djibouti where we took a boat through the Arabian Sea to Yemen. I almost lost hope after the engine of the boat had broken down…

Mouhamad’s Journey, Greece

“At 2:30 in the morning, the engine suddenly stopped. The deadly silence around us was creating a funeral atmosphere… “

Carina Hoang. Former Vietnamese refugee and award winning author

Carina escaped Vietnam on a wooden boat with her two siblings and 370 other people. She endured violent storms, pirate raids,….

Hussein’s Story, Greece

Hussein’s uncommon courage and perseverance kept him moving forward and taking enormous risks to reach a better life, he refused to sink.

Thanassis’ Story, Greece

Actor Thanassis Papageorgiou had to grow up to understand the “sacredness” of an old photo showing his parents with his two sisters in front of a big ship…

Italy: Desperate Rescue at Sea

Italy: Desperate Rescue at Sea

  Length: 4:07 Views: 23,107

Ahmet’s Story, Cyprus

“I will think about my options, but I’m certainly not going at sea again. I left for the future of my kids; I’m not going to die with them in the sea. Life is not over.”

Najaf’s Story, Indonesia

“My daughter and son-in-law were in Australia. From Indonesia, they had sailed for 15 days…”

Aziz’s Story, Greece

“During that journey, I lost my most valuable possession: my father’s ring which was the only thing I had to remind me of him…”

Malaysia: Escape to Hardship

Malaysia: Escape to Hardship

  Length: 3:00 Views: 16

Jihan’s Story, Greece

Jihan, her husband and two sons from Syria boarded a boat with 40 others. They hoped the journey would take eight hours. There was no guarantee they would make it alive…

1 family torn apart by war is too many

Learn more about our work with refugees at