Najaf, Iraq is home to the world’s largest cemetery — where the remains of an estimated 5 million people are interred. The site is surpassing capacity as gravediggers say up to 200 people per day are being brought in for burial because of the renewed violence in Iraq. CCTV’s Jack Barton reports from Najaf.
Iraq's largest cemetery overwhelmed with number of deathsNajaf in Iraq is home to the world's largest cemetery where the remains of an estimated 5-million people lie. With the renewed violence in Iraq, the site is surpassing its capacity. Gravediggers say up to 200 people per day are being brought in for burial. CCTV's Jack Barton reports from Najaf.
The 1,400-year old cemetery at Najaf is a place that Shi’ite Muslims consider one of the holiest place to bury their dead. The families arrive at dawn to mourn relatives killed in Iraq’s latest insurgency, driven by the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State. Throughout the day, coffins continue to arrive.
Every day soldiers, militiamen and civilians killed by the fighting are buried here. The United Nations estimates that last month more than 2,400 people were killed in the violence, about three quarters of them civilians. Gravedigger Abu Sajjad warned that the casualty rate is expected to be just as high this month. Despite this being the world’s largest cemetery, he said that it’s struggling to cope and that there is no space left to put the dead.
With the Islamic State militants making it a a habit to destroy Shi’ite and Christian sites, locals fear the same fate for this enormous graveyard, where the human cost of Iraq’s renewed insurgency echoes between the graves every day.