- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Advocates are raising money for the burial of a 36-year-old Congolese refugee who died of the coronavirus earlier this month in Des Moines.

Embarc Iowa, a refugee services organization, said that Wiuca Iddi Wiuca died May 4 after a sudden illness and two weeks in the hospital.

The group says advocates need to raise thousands of dollars to have Wiuca buried this week at an Ankeny cemetery.

“Traditional burial in the Congolese community is extremely important. There is no other option; since the body came from the soil, it must be returned,” the group says.

Wiuca leaves behind two adult siblings who, like him, were resettled to Des Moines last year from a refugee camp in Tanzania. They had fled war in Congo in 1996.

Wiuca’s siblings have been struggling to pay their rent and expenses and have been off work, Embarc Iowa says.

A pastor who has worked with the family says all three siblings were employed at a Pitney Bowes warehouse, but it’s unknown where Wiuca contracted the virus.

Wiuca is at least the second Congolese refugee to die in Iowa of coronavirus in recent days. On May 10, the Congolese community in Waterloo, Iowa announced that Tyson Foods employee Axel Kabeya died of COVID-19.

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