‘A question of dignity’: the pathologist identifying migrants drowned in the Med

Dr Cristina Catteneo made it her mission to put a name to each man, woman and child found in the overcrowded hulls of sunken boats bound for Europe

At a glance, Dr Cristina Cattaneo assessed the lifeless body on the floor of an abandoned Sicilian hospital – a thin, young Eritrean refugee about 180cm tall. While most of the corpse was intact, his face and hands were skeletonised, probably the work of sea animals.

It was the morning of 3 July 2015, and this was the first body to be recovered by a navy robot after a shipwreck on 18 April that year, which left more than 1,000 people dead.

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