Morgues and hospitals in Sfax, Tunisia are struggling to cope with the increasing number of bodies arriving after migrants attempt to make the dangerous sea crossing from Tunisia to Europe. The city, which has the central morgue for around a million people, has seen more than 200 bodies arrive in a single day, creating a health problem due to capacity issues.
Most of the migrants leaving Tunisia for Europe depart from the coast between Sfax and Mahdia, with more than three-quarters taking this route. Between January and April 24 of this year, over 220 dead and missing migrants have been recorded, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa.
DNA swaps are being taken from each body before burial to assist with identification. The problem of managing the bodies of drowned migrants is complicated by the fact that local authorities have created a special cemetery for migrants on the grounds that they are not Muslims, which is seen as discriminatory as many of the migrants come from Muslim nations.
The number of departures has increased since February when President Kais Saied claimed that illegal immigration was a demographic threat to Tunisia. The economic crisis in Tunisia has also pushed many of its citizens to attempt the dangerous sea crossing to find better lives abroad.