ROME, APRIL 12 – Thousands of headstones in the cemeteries of Southern Italy have no names. Other corpses end-up on the bottom of the sea, corroded by salt or eaten by fish. Thousands of migrants who fall victim to drowning in the Mediterranean, remain unidentified. Their families, in their countries of origin or in Europe, don’t even know if their loved ones are dead or alive.
The bodies of the majority of victims who drown in the Mediterranean are never retrieved or identified. And even when bodies are retrieved, 60% of them are unidentified when buried. But something is about to change. Humanitarian cooperation engaged in identifying the victims of drowning in the Mediterranean – almost five-thousand people in 2016 – is the centerpiece of a protocol signed at the Farnesina by the Secretary General of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Elisabetta Belloni and the government’s special Commissioner for missing persons, Vittorio Piscitelli.
The protocol defines collaborative procedures between the two institutions supporting the Italian and International Red Cross for the acquisition of personal data and/or biological samples that will make it possible to identify the victim’s identities.
When possible and effectively geared to protect the safety concerns of relatives, consular and diplomatic representatives will work with local authorities in distributing informational notices in the victim’s countries of origin. Said collaboration will make it possible to gather antemortem identification data and compare it to the victim’s postmortem data collected and verified by police, medical teams and forensic anthropologists from thirteen different universities coordinated by Professor Cristina Cattaneo at the University of Milan.
Today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the entente as a “good practice”, to be exported to the rest of the EU, that will strengthen the Italian model of excellence in humanitarian efforts for the advancement of peace, security, and solidarity among peoples. (@OnuItalia)