Chamseddine Marzoug, a fisherman and Red Crescent volunteer close to one of the graves in Zarzis  (Photo:
Chamseddine Marzoug, a fisherman and Red Crescent volunteer close to one of the graves in Zarzis (Photo:

There is no longer any space for drowned migrants' corpses in the cemetery of the coastal town Zarzis, Tunisia. Local fishermen had thus far dealt with the situation. Now, in agreement with the town council, the Red Crescent has launched an online fundraiser for the purchase of more land to give a decent burial to the victims and to create a place to commemorate them.

In Zarzis, southeastern Tunisia, almost no day goes by without the sea washing onto the shore bodies of men, women and children who drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean towards Europe. Local fishermen and volunteers often work to give a proper burial to these migrants without a name, who died on the route between Libya and Italy. 

For the past 12 years, much of the work has been done by Chamseddine Marzoug, a fisherman and Red Crescent volunteer, alongside the Zarzis town council. But now there is no space left to bury anymore. 

Red Crescent to run the new cemetery if funds raised 

The Medenine regional committee of the Red Crescent under Mongi Slim has thus launched an online petition at, in agreement with local authorities, to raise 30,000 euros to buy a plot of land measuring 2,500 square meters 15 kilometers south of Zarzis. 

On that land, a cemetery that would also function as a place of memory for those who lost their lives trying to cross the sea will be built. Once the land has been purchased, the Tunisian Red Crescent will take the responsibility for managing the cemetery and will try to collect information on the identity of those buried, to safeguard in some way their dignity and the memory of them. 

Memorial to the deceased

If the amount is not reached, the Red Crescent will buy a smaller piece of land. As of August 27, the IOM - which notes that it does not have any information on those that have drowned since August 9 - some 2,410 have died this year in trying to cross the sea. According to the website for the project, a total of 3,400 have died this way, 10 percent of whom off Tunisian coasts. 

Zarzis blocked Identitarian Group

Zarzis drew international attention in early August when the coastal town's fishermen and community prevented the docking of the C-Star, an anti-migrant ship run by the Generation Identity group involved in the Defend Europe operation. The fishermen, in taking up an appeal launched by the 'North Africa Collective Against the Racist C-Star Ship', were prepared to stop the arrival of the C-Star in the sea with three ships. The head of the Zarzis fishermen's association, Chamseddine Bourassine, had said that its members would take part in the initiative because they had been involved in saving human lives for over 15 years and that they thus had reason to act against 'racism'.

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