Migrants: Fr Zerai calls for not moving bodies from cemetery

After discovery of mass graves in Sciacca

05 October, 17:38

    The coffins of migrants dead in a shipwreck off Lampedusa at Salerno's cemetery The coffins of migrants dead in a shipwreck off Lampedusa at Salerno's cemetery

    ROME - Migrant activist and Eritrean priest Father Mussie Zerai, who heads the agency "Habeshia", is calling on all Sicilian prefectures and towns that received the bodies of migrants to "let them rest in peace where they were originally buried".

    Zerai's appeal comes after the decision by some local cemeteries to move the bodies to mass graves, as in Sciacca.

    In that town, two women who came from Switzerland to visit the grave of their sister, who died in the Lampedusa shipwreck on October 3, 2013, found once they arrived that her body had been moved.

    Fr Zerai said 10 bodies are still unaccounted for, which were moved without informing any relatives.

    "The risk of losing bodies cast into mass graves is very high and it infringes upon the right of families to have a grave to cry on once the body of their deceased loved one is identified, even after many years," he said.

    "The relatives of dead migrants continue to call for their identification and even now DNA tests are taking place," he said.

    Once identified, the government's special commission for missing persons issues a document that indicates the original burial place.

    "The right for the dead to rest in peace without tossing them around, and the right of families to know that their loved one is buried safely without anyone profaning his grave, is sacred," Zerai said.

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