On a Greek island, volunteers remake burial site for refugees lost at sea

People leave flowers at the graves during an inauguration ceremony following the renovation of a burial ground for refugees and migrants in the village of Kato Tritos, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, April 17. [Reuters/Elias Marcou]

Under an overcast sky on the Greek island of Lesvos, Afghan asylum-seeker Safika placed a red rose on the grave of a refugee who died trying to reach Europe. The tombstone read "unknown."

Nearly a decade since the first bodies of asylum-seekers were buried in this field in the village of Kato Tritos, a group of volunteers sought to turn the abandoned and overgrown plot into a burial ground that was inaugurated on Wednesday.

They spent months clearing the plot, uncovering and counting graves that had disappeared beneath tall grass over the years.

Graves made of cement and topped with white pebbles now replaced the low mounds of earth barely identifiable by a piece of broken marble or a stick.

"They come for a new life, for new chance. I'm sorry … they drown in the sea," said Sohrab Shirzad, a volunteer from Afghanistan.

"Now I am happy, now this...

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