Guidance document

Cemetery planning, preparation and management during Covid-19: a quick guide to proper documentation and disposition of the dead

Publication Year
Thematic Area
Forensics / Law & Policies
Management of the Dead
Open access

During the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for the dead and their families is at the heart of the ICRC’s response. The management of the dead process includes proper documentation and appropriate disposition, including temporary burials. If there is a sudden and significant increase in the number of deaths, local capacities can quickly become overwhelmed. This guidance, prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, can be applied to any incident involving mass fatalities when the local capacity to provide safe, appropriate and dignified burials is overwhelmed. This document explains how to plan, prepare and manage a cemetery, it also provides specifications on size, spacing, excavation depths, and information about other important considerations. It provides recommendations on how to correctly map graves while ensuring the traceability and correct management of bodies in a cemetery. Procedures for receiving bodies, as well as measures to ensure the health and safety of relatives and cemetery staff are also covered in this guidance.