Twenty graves a day, in a city that has grown accustomed to death

Twenty graves a day, in a city that has grown accustomed to death
Investigations | 18 Mar 2015

Residents of Douma in the Damascus countryside have become accustomed to digging an estimated 20 graves a day. The city has, for the past two years, been no stranger to death, being the target of a variety of attacks by the Syrian regime.

With the "Army of Islam" also turning the city into a headquarters for its military factions, yet another reasons was added for the regime to make a target out of the city; in response to every military operation carried out by the "Army of Islam" in Damascus.

Samir Bouwaydani, director of the cemetery office of the local council of the city of Douma, says "there are only ten workers who dig graves in Douma. They receive their salaries from the [city] council."

With the impossibility of identification and the uncertainity surrounding the clinical dead in light of the chaos of war, many are added to the dead and unaccounted for.

On this point, Bouwaydani explains that the local city council follows exact documentation, "archives are kept in numbered tables, color-coded, with documented images of deaths. These tables are then linked to the civil records department; with a death certificate issued at all such instances by a pathologist working with the local city council. There are no burials performed without this certificate."

nowadays, a single grave in some cemeteries in the capital Damascus could cost as much as one million Syrian Pounds; while in Douma they are free. The ancient city cemetery has now become a line of fire and an area of clashes. This has prompted residents to select another area far from the whizz of bullets and the sound of battles; thus prompting the living and the dead to undergo the shared experience of displacement.

Due to the raging conflict, the traditional marble gravestones that used to form part of the cemetery's scenery, have now also been replaced by concrete slabs inscribed with the dead person's name and date of burial.


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