Unidentified refugees being buried at Greek island of Lesbos

Refugees who drowned on Aegean Sea while trying to reach Europe are being buried on Greek island of Lesbos

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees who died crossing the Aegean being prepared to be buried

A 7-year-old girl died on September 20 while she was trying to reach Europe by crossing the Aegean Sea and now she lies on the ground with an unknown woman who died with her. A few strangers pray for her, standing over her burial.

"Her mother may be alive in Turkey but we have not been able to find a family contact," says Effi Latsoudi, a member of a volunteer group helping refugees in the Greek island of Lesbos.

She was traveling with a group of refugees who were trying to across the Aegean Sea when their dinghy capsized, Turkish Coast Guard managed to save 20 people, but 24 are still missing and presumed dead.

Bulldozer excavates three graves for the drowned refugees, two women, an unknown man and for a little girl who will be buried with one of the women.

Dead people are considered to be Muslim, so the graves were dug facing towards the direction of Mecca.

At the end of the prayer, one of the volunteers said 'Europe should be ashamed'. "Europe should be ashamed of forcing these people to risk their lives."

Europe encountered the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, with the main flow coming from civil war-torn Syria.

On the other hand, a 5-year-old girl from Syria who died a day before, was identified and her family requested her body for burial.

There is also a Christian family from Syria who died on March 2014. Their loved ones headed to Lesbos for the funeral.

The other old graves have Kurds, Iraqis and Afghans who died while trying to cross the Aegean Sea and they are only specified with numbers.

The cemetery of Agios Panteleimonas on Lesbos, has been the final resting place for many refugees and open burial space is running out.

The UNHCR said on Thursday that it expects 700,000 refugees to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean by the end of 2015, and at least the same amount of refugees in 2016.

More than half of the refugees are Syrians escaping the civil war, rest are refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Iraq and other nationalities escaping conflict or poverty.

Over 4 million Syrians fled their country since the civil war began in 2011 and another 7.6 million are displaced inside the country.

The agency has recorded 219,000 refugees who came to Europe by sea in 2014.

Around 3,000 people lost their lives or disappeared in the Mediterranean this year, while they were trying to reach Europe.


TRTWorld and agencies