Refugees in Italian graveyard get reburied in mass grave

As relatives of those seeking refuge who drowned on the way to Europe have found out, the bodies buried in Italy were excavated and reburied in a mass grave. According to the authorities, for “lack of space” in the graveyard.

Relatives of refugees who died on the way to Europe made the shocking discovery that the graves of their family members in the Sciacca cemetery in Italy are no longer there. Apparently, some of the remains of those who died in a boat accident off Lampedusa in October 2013, in which 368 migrants died, were exhumed and reburied in a mass grave.

Relatives discovered empty graves

As reported by infomigrants, the discovery was made by four Eritrean refugees who had travelled from Sweden to Sicily to pay their respects to their relatives and friends who had been killed in the shipwreck. They only found empty tombs. A few days earlier, two Eritrean women who had travelled from Switzerland had also looked in vain for their sister's grave.

"Lack of space", reburied in a mass grave

According to the municipality, the remains of the victims were buried in a mass grave because they belonged to people "who were never identified" and had only been given a number. However, this version is denied by Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest and activist for the rights of migrants and refugees. According to Zerai, “the government's special envoy on missing persons has a complete map of the graves of shipwreck victims and individual identification procedures are ongoing, including through specific DNA testing, with the aim of giving each number a name and to ensure proper burial, which the Italian state has promised. Father Zerai described it as "unacceptable to bury the bodies in a mass grave" and asked for an explanation.

The mayor of Sciacca, Francesca Valenti, said she was surprised to learn of the reburial. She reportedly ordered an internal investigation to determine who was responsible for this. According to local sources, the reburial was ordered by a municipal office on the instructions of the judicial authorities because there were not enough graves available.

Father Mussie Zerai said that the authorities "should have known that these graves could not be opened and that the bodies could not be reburied. Italy has made a commitment, it is a question of compassion."