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Unesco inaugurates the ‘Garden of Africa,’ a new resting place for refugees who died in the Mediterranean

THE director-general of the UN’s cultural agency Unesco, Audrey Azoula, inaugurated a garden in the coastal Tunisian town of Zarzis this week commemorating refugees who drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

The Garden of Africa (Le Jardin d’Afrique) is the concept of Algerian-French artist Rachid Koraichi, whose exhibition at the October Gallery in London was reviewed in the Star.

A Unesco plaque at the site pays homage to the shipwrecked who lost their lives in search of a better life “and in recognition of the commitment of artist Rachid Koraichi to fight indifference and give them a dignified final resting place.”

The Garden is both a symbol and an actual burial place for the refugees who perish along the perilous sea routes of the Mediterranean in search of a better life. Their countless remains are returned to the shores by the currents, only to be tossed onto the rubbish heaps of north Africa’s costal towns.

Koraichi says the garden, a place of solemn rest as much as solace and reflection, is an Islamic idea of a cemetery as a restful place.

It is a non-denominational space to be “filled with the sound of water and teeming with plants — jasmine, hibiscus, bougainvillea, cypress, oranges and scented herbs — like a true garden of paradise.”

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