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Letter sent on Oct 21, 2015

Here’s What We Found on the Beaches of Tunisia

Episode 3 of Ghost Boat is live now—and it contains a grim and important discovery: That the bodies of many refugees who wash ashore in Tunisia and Libya aren’t recorded in any organized way.

Even worse, from our reporting in the port of Zarzis, we found that most of them are simply tossed into mass graves.

Without access to an ambulance, or storage, or a recognized place to bury them, the corpses are dumped into a municipal garbage truck and taken directly to a plot of unused land about five miles outside of Zarzis, designated as a burial ground by the local authorities.
“The bodies are buried in piles. They just dig and put them in the ground,” Trabelsi said.

To be clear, however, there is no evidence that the people who were supposed to be on the Ghost Boat are buried here—or even that they are dead. In fact, our search to track down the 243 passengers is also producing valuable information on the theory of whether they’re in captivity somewhere (it’s pretty sensitive right now, and we want to verify it before sharing: Bear with us.)

So we need to keep looking to find out what happened.

Read the full episode now.

Here’s What We Know So Far

Since last week, things have moved on in a number of ways.

We know the movements of every registered vessel in the region.

—We know there are detention centers in Tunisia and Libya (some of them secret).

We have kept adding to our log of boat incidents.

Here’s What We Don’t Know

There are some things we’re still working on. Here are three.

—The location where the boat might have sunk.

—The possible patterns of ocean drift that might help us.

—The places where detention centers might be.

How can we make progress on these points?


If you have any suggestions of information you’d like to know, ideas you think we should pursue, or help you think you can provide, just let us know by responding to this or emailing us ghostboat@medium.com

Onward.

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