'Syrian Super Mario' highlights hardships faced by refugees

'Syrian Super Mario' highlights hardships faced by refugees
Blog: A Syrian artist has created his own take on the Nintendo video game to help explain the disheartening reality of Syrians attempting to cross into Europe.
3 min read
14 Sep, 2015
Thousands of Syrians continue to make the perilous journey to flee the current conflict [Getty]
As gamers young and old all around the world celebrate the 30th anniversary of Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers - two of the best-known characters in video game history - a Syrian artist is using the popularity to focus on an important cause.

"Syrian Super Mario" attempts to highlight the perilous journey and the ongoing hardships faced by millions of Syrians who have fled the conflict raging in their country.

     Five months ago my best friend drowned in the sea while travelling from Turkey to Greece. The engine on the boat exploded
Created by a 29-year-old Syrian, under the pseudonym Samir al-Mufti the video shows the game character grab his suitcase, withdraw his savings and flee, as he faces dangerous difficulties including armed soldiers, violent smugglers and threatening waters along the way.

The video game is a hard hitting reality of the current calamity, deemed as the worst migration crisis since the Second World War.

More than 430,000 people have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean this year, according to data from the International Organisation for Migration, with more than 2,700 losing their lives.

Around 310,000 have landed in Greece and 121,000 in Italy.

The UN's refugee agency forecasts that 400,000 people will have crossed the Mediterranean by the end of the year and that "450,000 or more" will follow in 2016.

"A lot of my friends have fled for Europe," Samir told BBC Trending.

"From talking to them I built a clear idea of what they went through and the life threatening risks they took."

Samir is originally from the western Syrian city of Homs, but fled to Turkey via Egypt with his parents and sister after his two brothers were killed.

"Five months ago my best friend drowned in the sea while travelling from Izmir [in Turkey] to Greece. The engine on the boat exploded. That's when I got the idea for the video," he explained.

Earlier this month, images of the tiny body of three-year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum sparked a global outpouring of sympathy and outrage.

He was believed to be one of at least 12 people who died trying to reach Greece when their boats sank in Turkish waters.

Following his tragic death, the crisis has come into the spotlight a lot more, with European Union ministers trying to narrow a yawning divide over how to share responsibility for thousands of refugees arriving daily and ease the burden on front-line states.

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants so far this year has taken the EU by surprise and it has been criticised for responding slowly.