A sense of closure
By Darrin Zammit Lupi
I attended a brief and very poignant ceremony; the funeral of four Nigerian would-be immigrants who drowned while attempting to reach a better life, crossing to Europe by sea, crossing the central Mediterranean that has become a graveyard.
Six immigrants died on that crossing last August. Four bodies were recovered, including that of a fourteen year old boy.
The burial took place months after the accident, because DNA tests were necessary to confirm the identities of the four who died.
Bridget Ezukuse’s husband died moments before a merchant ship came to rescue the migrants. His body drifted away and was never seen again.
I had photographed 32-year-old Bridget as she disembarked from a Malta Armed Forces rescue boat in the early hours of August 16. She was in tears. I didn’t know why at the time, though it wasn’t hard to guess why.
I met her two days later, in a detention camp. She was inconsolable at the loss of her husband, the father of her unborn child.
She has since been released from detention; much sooner than is the norm for most immigrants. That’s because she is considered a vulnerable case. Procedures and paper work are fast tracked in such cases.
Bridget attended the funeral. She was looking a lot better than she did when I first met her. Her memory of those early days is hazy. Though her husband’s body was not there, being at the funeral and throwing a bouquet of flowers served to give her a sense of closure.
Photographing this sort of event is always a tricky one. There is news value, but there are also privacy issues. You want to strike the perfect balance between capturing the emotion while not being intrusive or obstructing anything. I’m grateful to the authorities, and more so to the immigrants themselves, for allowing me to infringe in some small way on what is essentially a very private and personal matter.
Say a little prayer for them when you finish reading this.