Lifejackets left behind by migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos have been repurposed into a massive peace sign, lending the bright orange vests another chance to draw international attention to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. 

As part of a joint effort between Greenpeace and Médecins Sans Frontières, the lifejackets – which number in the thousands – were assembled into the iconic sign over New Year’s. Jackets retrieved from migrants who died at sea have also been included in the sign. Over 700 people are reported to have drowned in the Aegean Sea surrounding the island over the past 12 months. 

The work also serves a practical purpose, as the lifejackets are quite literally washing over the entire island; as thousands of migrants continue their journey north through Lesbos every day, the jackets have accumulated in staggering numbers.

The sign emerged just before Chinese artist Ai Weiwei announced his intentions to build a more permanent memorial to migrants on the island; his recent visit to the site also drew more attention to the issue.

A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

While memorials and commemorative works are a culturally necessary, it’s worth noting the influx of migrants from Syria, Iraq and surrounds is nowhere near over. Hopefully, they’ll be able to stop adding more lifejackets to the pile soon. 

Story: Mashable / ABC.