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Third finalist 2023

Anna Surinyach

Sea of mourning


An average of nine people die every day since 2014 trying to reach Europe through the sea. The numbers are higher than in most active wars, but the social alarm is not the same despite the fact that these deaths happen at the gates of Europe. Nine people, non-stop, for more than 3,500 days. And those recorded by the authorities are counted, but only the bottom of the sea knows the real number.   

The disappearances and deaths of people in their migratory process have a terrible emotional impact on their families and communities of origin. To the pain of loss is added the uncertainty of not knowing what has happened, the impotence of not being able to go to any official window to claim information and the fear of reporting the disappearance to the authorities. Meanwhile, the sea continues to swallow bodies.   

The few people that the sea expels are buried in unmarked niches. Identification processes are complicated and most of the time end in nothing. The DNA samples kept in forensic laboratories cannot be compared because the next of kin, in most cases, do not have the financial or legal means to come and carry out the tests that would allow identification. Ninety percent of the bodies expelled by the sea are not identified and most of those that die are never recovered.   

Sea of Mourning’ is the result of years of work documenting the different migratory routes to Europe through the sea. On these routes the deaths do not cease and many times the shipwrecks are invisible. The project combines the journalistic investigation of these shipwrecks accompanying the tireless search of the relatives with submerged images of the portraits that the families use to try to obtain some kind of information.   

Anna Surinyach/5W


Anna Surinyach (Barcelona, 1985). She is a documentary photographer and graphic editor of the international information magazine 5W. Her work has focused on documenting population movements in different parts of the world. She has photographed the situation of displaced people in countries such as Southern Sudan, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Yemen, and Syria. She has also documented migration routes from Central America to the United States and from Africa and the Middle East to Europe.

Anna has coordinated audiovisual projects for Médecins Sans Frontières (NGO with which she worked for 6 years), Intermón Oxfam, and Expertise France. In recent years she has focused on documenting the situation of women who flee their homes for reasons related to violence, poverty, or lack of opportunities. Her photographs have been exhibited in the United States, Uruguay, Argentina, France, Italy, and Spain. Her work has been published in both national and international media. She has co-directed the documentaries Misbah and #Boza.