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Management of deceased bodies during crises — Global Issues

The UN health agency, in collaboration with the IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), stressed that proper care of the deceased also provides emotional closure for surviving families and promotes public health .

The statement emphasizes that fear and misunderstanding caused by large-scale deaths “are often unfounded,” emphasizing that communities need the appropriate tools and information to manage deaths safely.

Dignity in the midst of tragedy

In response to large-scale natural disasters or the aftermath of armed conflict, some survivors may choose to hasten burials, often in mass graves, which can have adverse consequences, including lasting mental distress for members. family as well as social and legal problems.

“An unnecessary rush to dispose of the bodies of those killed in disasters or conflict deprives families of the opportunity to identify and mourn their loved ones, while providing no public health benefit,” said Gwen Eamer, senior public health officer in emergencies for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC). Emergency operations, response to the earthquake in Morocco.

Misconception about epidemic risks

Studies have shown that people who succumb to injuries resulting from disasters or war generally do not pose a health risk.

However, an exception occurs when these plans are near water sources, which can contaminate the water and increase the risk of diarrheal and other diseases.

“The belief that corpses cause epidemics is not supported by any evidence. We see too many cases where the media and even some medical professionals are wrong on this issue,” said Pierre Guyomarch, head of the ICRC’s forensic unit.

Burial Guidelines

To better manage burials, some organizations offer guidelines that include easily traceable and properly documented individual graves in demarcated burial sites.

This ensures accurate information on the location of loved ones, as well as their contact details and associated personal belongings.

Beware of mass graves

“We urge authorities in communities affected by the tragedy not to rush into mass burials or cremations. Dignified management of bodies is important for families and communities and, in cases of conflict, is often an important part of ending fighting more quickly,” said Dr. Kazunobu Kojima, Medical Officer for Biosecurity and Protection. biosecurity within the WHO health emergencies programme. .

The ICRC, the International Federation and WHO strongly encourage all parties involved in conflict and disaster response to adhere to established principles for the management of deceased persons.


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