Tuesday, 02 October 2012, 03:04 GMT
Erbil's graveyards not environmental-friendly

This photo depicts a gate of the Sheikh Ahmed Cemetery, Erbil, October 1, 2012./GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamid

The Kurdish Globe

People visit the cemetery on Mondays and Thursdays,

A number of Arab laborers were digging a new grave and the children were playing with the mud unaware of the fact it would be used to cover the dead body of their grandmother. Shahida 35, on the other hand, was supervising the workers and bringing water for them.

Sheikh Ahmed Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Erbil where a large number of Erbil residents have family members, resting.

People visit the cemetery on Mondays and Thursdays, in addition to the days before the religious eids and anniversaries of their family members, death.

The cemetery is very small compared to the number of graves in it and is designed in a way that very narrow space is left between the graves, this means that people sometimes have to walk over the graves.

Shahida was burying her mother's corpse who had died four years ago.

"She was buried in another cemetery," Shahida said sadly as she had remembered the day she lost her mother. "Her grave was destroyed several times by the families of the other graves around, and I had to move her to this cemetery."

In addition to lack of sufficient place for burying people and even walkways, Sheikh Ahmed Cemetery lacks basic services such as chairs or e+ven water for irrigating the trees and plants.

Avin Qadir Hassan, director of Erbil's third municipality, says that in the old cemeteries people have buried the corpses in a disorganized way and have not left a lot of options for the municipalities to provide services.

Couple hundred meters from Sheikh Ahmed Cemetery, there is another, more modern one called Sheikh Ahmed II Cemetery, which is more recently built and is better designed and more organized.

In the second Sheikh Ahmed Cemetery people can buy spaces to bury their family members, and enough space is left for walkways, planting greenery and other basic services.

Hassan told the Globe that they have allocated IQD 1 billion to provide services to the cemetery, as well as an amount to be spent for the old cemetery.

Additionally, Erbil Municipality has allocated another plot of land near Kasnazan, a town east of Erbil, for a cemetery where people can bury their family members' corpses free of charge but in an organized way.

A place like a cemetery is not a place where people can be happy, but if the same place is mixed with trees, nature and greenery, it would help ease the graves of the people in addition to helping to keep the environment clean.