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Arts

Ai Weiwei plans Berlin memorial to drowned refugees

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is planning a work to commemorate the refugees who drowned on their way to Europe.The memorial will be made out of 14,000 life jackets left by migrants on the beach.

For this memorial project, Ai Weiwei will use 14,000 discarded life jackets he obtained from the Greek island of Lesbos according to a statement from the office of the island's mayor Spiros Galinos on Tuesday (02.02.2016).

"This work aims to mobilize the global community regarding the crime carried out daily in the Aegean by ruthless people smugglers," the statement added.

Although smugglers sell these life jackets at a high price, they are usually poorly made and are useless in case of an accident at sea.

Currently a guest professor at Berlin's University of Arts, Ai Weiwei has developed a strong interest in the refugees' plight. He has established a

studio on the island of Lesbos,

a landing point for many migrants crossing over to Europe over the Aegean Sea.

Ai Weiwei posing as Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, Copyright:Rohit Chawla/India Today via AP

Ai Weiwei posing as Aylan Kurdi

Earlier this week, the Chinese artist already made headlines through a

photo of himself posing as Aylan Kurdi

on a Lesbos beach for the magazine "India Today." The pictures of the Syrian toddler whose body was found last September have become an iconic symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Despite the world's growing awareness, people fleeing war-torn countries are still perishing every week while trying to reach Europe. According to the latest numbers provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in January alone, 360 people have drowned during this perilous journey, and in the last five months 330 children have died on the Mediterranean.

eg/kbm (AFP, dpa)

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