The first advice I got when I arrived was: don’t step on the dirt, only the asphalt or the concrete. the place had been sown with landmines and nobody on my side of the city had the map of where those lethal devices were placed. We were in Mostar airport during the Balkans War. The Serb forces, positioned then in the mountains surrounding the city, had placed the mines. Take a shortcut to go from one place to another was a creepy risk.
In Croatia, so many years after the war, there are still minefields, despite the programmes of demining put in place since the end of the war 20 years ago. Over there, in some areas in the region of Slavonia near the border with Serbia and Hungary, take a tractor and go out to reap or plow, was a job for heroes. If the tractor stumbled upon a mine, it could blow up and the farmer die. Nowadays, to do so is strictly forbidden in the areas clearly marked as minefields where the specialised teams are working to locate and defuse the lethal devices. Many farmers have lost a lot of money and lands because of that. The authorities have a program to detect and defuse the mines that is very laborious and they are confident that they will clear everything by the end of 2019 . Minefields represent a big risk. Many people die or get mutilated many years after the wars finish. The efforts to eliminate these treacherous weapons are not enough. The victims all over the world need more.
The problem jumped to the front page news in Europe with the refugee crisis from Syria. Because thousands entered Croatia, precisely through the border with Serbia and they went into the dangerous cornfields, trying to escape from the frontier police and find a way to continue their odyssey to reach Germany. A way full of closed borders and new fences built to stop them. It’s the biggest wave of migration since WWII and the developed Europe is reacting with fences and an inadequate quota system.
The refugees who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean these days or crowd at the borders of the Balkans, are fleeing from the horrors of the war. They have lost everything and want a better life for their children. But the doors to advance to their dream destination are almost always closed. Fear? To what? Maybe to the Islamists? Or rather to the lost of economic comfort? Or maybe both?