Chinese artist Ai WeiWei has wrapped 14,000 life jackets around the columns of Berlin's Konzerthaus to raise awareness for the plight of refugees making their way to Europe.
By
SBS News

15 Feb 2016 - 12:27 PM  UPDATED 15 Feb 2016 - 5:14 PM

Chinese artist Ai WeiWei has wrapped bright orange vests around the columns of Berlin's concert hall in an artwork aimed at spotlighting the situation for refugees trying to flee to safety. 

Ai collected the abandoned life vests on the beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos where refugees regularly arrive.

Ai has been a regular visitor of the island since the start of the refugee crisis, as Lesbos is a gateway into Europe for hundreds of thousands of refugees making the dangerous crossing from the Mediterranean. 

Ai has been a outspoken advocate for refugees since the start of the crisis. Recently, the political activist withdrew from two exhibitions in Denmark to protest against an asylum law passed by parliament. The new law which was passed in January included rules on confiscating valuables from refugees to help pay for their stay. 

The artist, who is based in Berlin, also coined the hashtag #SafePassage on social media to bring attention to the cause. 

Five years of war in Syria have left 16 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, according to the Red Cross. The charity calls it the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Over one million migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2015, nearly half of them Syrians.

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