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Death Abroad
 

General information on the death of U.S. Citizens abroad can be found on the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs public website.

Djibouti Disposition of Remains Report

(Updated March 1, 2012)

Preface

The following information is submitted in accordance with 7 FAM 260.  The Consular Officer met with Djibouti’s only coroner/mortician to obtain the information for this report.  The laws cited are from the national law of Djibouti (the 1937 Berlin Convention pertaining to international transport of human remains, signed by France on 10 February 1937, to which Djibouti automatically became a signatory at its independence in 1977, governs regulations on export of human remains out of Djibouti). 

Part I.

Djibouti

Part II.  U.S. Embassy Information

U.S. Embassy Djibouti
Phone: +253 21-45 30 00
Fax: +253 21-45 33 40
After Hours Phone: +253 21-45-30-10

Consular Information Sheet, Embassy Djibouti American Citizen Services Website, Register With the U.S. Embassy

Part III.  Profile of Religions of the Host Country and Religious Services available to visitors.

Host Country Religions:

Muslim 97%, Christian 3%.

Religious Activities for Visitors:

The following denominations maintain places of worship in Djibouti:  Roman Catholic (French and English), Protestant (French and, once a month, English), Greek Orthodox (Greek), Ethiopian Orthodox (Amharic), and Muslim (Arabic and Somali).  No Jewish services are held.  

Part IV.  Funeral Directors, Mortician and Related Services Available in the Host Country.

Djibouti National Mortician (Djibouti National Police):

Madame Geneviève Fois
Phone: +253-21-35-18-91 / 77-81-56-31
Fax: None
After Hours Phone: 21-34-16-09
Email: goubeto@yahoo.fr

Service Costs: $3,500 - $5,000 depending on the amount and type of work required and the type of casket ordered (caskets are ordered through the coroner).

DISCLAIMER:  The U.S. Embassy Djibouti (Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti) assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of, services provided by the following persons or firms.  Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the only mortician available in Djibouti. The prices listed below are estimates only and are subject to change due to exchange rate fluctuations.

Part V.  Profile of services available in Djibouti regarding preparation and shipment of remains 

A - Disposition of Remains (general) – quality, cost, and capacity of refrigerated morgues and mortuary professionals; availability, cost and quality of embalming; autopsy requirements; special post specific remarks.

The quality of service provided in Djibouti is limited and costly. The heat in Djibouti (between 100F and 120F in the summer) means that bodies must be quickly moved to a morgue.  Only one mortician/coroner, Madame Fois, is licensed in Djibouti.  She works for the National Police, conducting all investigations and properly preparing the body for transit and burial.  Funeral homes do not exist and embalming is not available in Djibouti.

The mortician/coroner prepares bodies for burial or transport at the location chosen by the next of kin.

Preparation for shipment, including the container, documentation, casket and coffin are estimated to cost between DJF 600,000 and DJF 900,000 (approximately $3,500 – $5,000).  The refrigerated facilities in Djibouti will not keep a body cold enough to travel to the U.S. but bodies have successfully been chilled to reach Europe. Due to differences in European and U.S. casket requirements (for importation) caskets must be shipped to Europe for alteration before being onward shipped to Europe.  An open casket burial may not be possible due to the condition in which the body will arrive in the U.S., considering the length of travel time (estimated at 16 hours).  

There are only two refrigerated facilities available in Djibouti; Bouffard ( the French military hospital), and Peltier (the state-run public hospital).  Bouffard Hospital serves the French Military stationed in Djibouti but admits paying patients of other nationalities on a space-available basis. Admittance to Bouffard requires up-front cash payment of $112. Bouffard Hospital is equipped to hold four bodies at no charge, whether the deceased dies at Bouffard or elsewhere.

Autopsy requirements: If the circumstances surrounding a death are suspicious, an autopsy is required. The decision to conduct an autopsy rests with the Gendarmerie (the national police). A forensics expert will perform the autopsy and issue a medical certificate explaining the cause of the death. An autopsy and subsequent investigation can take several weeks in Djibouti and may delay the release of the body to next of kin.

Air France is the only carrier in Djibouti that transits remains out of Djibouti.  If the casket is purchased from a company in France recommended by the coroner, this company will make all arrangements for transferring the remains from Paris to airlines bound for U.S. destinations.  The cost of shipping the remains will vary, based on the destination. 

B - Specific facts relating to embalming, cremation, caskets, exportation, documentation requirements, preparation, shipment, and exhumation

Caskets: When remains are to be transported out of Djibouti, they are placed in a zinc casket, with the bottom covered with at least 5 centimeters of absorbing matter (peat, sawdust, pulverized charcoal, etc.), and which is hermetically sealed by soldering.  Before shipment is made, the zinc casket is placed in a wooden coffin, which in turn is placed in a wooden shipping case. 

Exhumation: Legal in Djibouti but can only be performed one year after burial. This typically costs 65,000 DJF (approximately $367.00), however, costs will vary depending on the location and complexity of the case.

Cremation: Legal in Djibouti, however, there are no standard facilities available in the country for this purpose. The Indian community performs non-professional cremations at the local non-Muslim cemeteryCremations can be arranged by contacting the honorary Indian consul, Mr. Nalin S. Kothari, at (+253) 21 35 02 19, who would assist on a voluntary basisDue to poor refrigeration facilities and distance to the U.S., cremation is recommended.  Cremation results in fine ash, the same as in the U.S.  The ashes would be placed in a wooden box, which costs between DJF 20,000–25,000 (approximately $113.00 – $142.00).  The mortician/coroner’s services cost DJF 65,000 (approximately $367.00), and transportation of the body from death site to mortuary costs DJF 15,000 (approximately $85.00).

Documentation Requirements: Local requirements for the export of human remains are based on the 1937 Berlin Convention, along with additional local regulations. Documentation can take approximately 5-7 days to complete. A written request made by the next-of-kin or a representative from the U.S. Embassy is required to obtain an exit permit for the remains. In addition, Djiboutian authorities require the following information:

  1. A letter from the party responsible for paying all fees, attesting to financial responsibility.
  2. Burial permit delivered by the destination municipality (country) or by the U.S Consular representative [available from the U.S. Embassy’s Consular section].
  3. A death certificate from a physician stating the cause, place, date, and time of death.
  4. A non-infectiousness certificate (If the death was from natural causes, issued by the physician who treated the deceased).
  5. A death certificate delivered by the Ministry of Interior to the Civil Records office.
  6. Documentation certifying that the coffin has been inspected by Djiboutian hygiene services officials at the Ministry of Health.
  7. Passport or other official identification.
  8. Embassy authorization for burial in the United States [issued by the U.S. Embassy’s Consular section].

Djiboutian authorities also require that:

  1. All U.S. documents must be translated into French and the international language spoken at transit points and the final destination.
  2. The casket containing the body should be hermetically sealed (see b. above).

C - Infectious diseases

A body with a known infectious disease will not be permitted to exit the country.  The coroner will have the body buried in Djibouti.

D - Shipping

Several in-country shipping options are available (i.e. truck, air, boat, etc.), but not all are recommended, nor are they all reliable or easy to arrange. 

Air France is the only airline that permits the shipment of bodies from Djibouti. Air France operates flights to Paris - Charles de Gaulle (CDG) International Airport on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. All major U.S. airlines have frequent daily flights from CDG.  The cost of shipping a casket costs $24.85 per kg. An empty casket weighs between 170 and 190 pounds plus the weight of the occupant. The estimated cost of shipping to a port of entry in the United States is $6,000.

E - Local authorities responsible for licensing funeral directors and morticians

The Prefet’s Office (county government) is responsible for licensing funeral directors and morticians.

F - Local authorities responsible for making findings regarding the cause of death and for issuing death local certificate.

The National Coroner, Madame Fois, is the sole individual responsible for making findings regarding the cause of death and she personally signs all death certificates. There is no national law regarding the maximum period before the burial/cremation of remains, but since the majority of the population is Muslim, burial usually occurs within 24 hours.  In the case of non-Djiboutian nationals, the total time between death and exportation of the remains/ashes is 7 to 10 days. Most deceased persons are buried in graves which cannot be exhumed for one year following burial. Funerals include a burial and ceremony according to religious traditions.