20 dead, 21 disabled in 16 years

Last Monday Samir told his story at a meeting organized by the Greek Campaign against Land Mines. In accordance with the Ottawa Convention signed 10 years ago, Greece’s land mines should already have been removed. Article 6 of the convention obliges the signatory states to provide for any victims of land mines on their territory. In actual fact, that does not happen. «When I was in hospital, I was sent a paper telling me to leave the country,» said Radwan. «I wondered how I was supposed to do that since I didn’t have any legs.» After years of pressure exerted by Louise O’Brien, a woman who has devoted her life to fighting Greek bureaucracy to improve the lives of land-mine victims, all the state does is pay Radwan’s rent and a small stipend to Guma. As for the artificial limbs? «Each limb costs 5,000 euros and has to be changed every two years. If you are insured with the Social Security Foundation (IKA), no one pays you that amount,» said Samir, who works at an aluminium factory. In Omonia Square there is a young immigrant who has lost one of his legs; in a border hospital is another amputee, a child, who still doesn’t understand what happened. Between 1987 and 2003, 20 people were brought in dead on arrival to the Didymoteicho hospital and another 21 with a limb blown away. The local imam, Hassan Muammer, can point to where the dead are buried – most of them Muslims. There are no gravestones to identify the departed, but then again, there is no one to look for them.