HAUNTING PHOTOS OF BOSNIA'S NEVER-ENDING LAND MINE AND FLOODING PROBLEM
Most Bosnians understand that the world can’t be bothered to keep track of all their problems. They live in a small Southern European country with a beautiful yet dark and complicated history. Even I admit that my concern for Bosnia is largely selfish and sentimental: I was born there, raised there, and lived through a war there. When the traces of that past come up, I take notice.
Earlier this year, there was massive flooding in Bosnia. Twice. More than 25 percent of the nation’s population was affected. The floods extended across 40 percent of the land, and once the water receded, it had created a new, menacing reality. Land mines that had been dormant for almost two decades slid into towns, disguised under a layer of wet, dark earth. In a single month, 54 mines, 840 explosive devices, and 37,366 pieces of smaller explosives and ammunition all found their way into residential areas. In the community of Doboj, a refrigerator packed with seven bombs washed up into someone’s front yard.
The Norwegian’s People Aid in Bosnia—the NGO that allowed me to visit a land-mine-removal site—has a rule that whenever there are more than four non-working individuals on the field, all de-mining engineers must stop working. The men, dressed in full protective gear that includes a blue helmet and padding across their shoulders, chests, stomach, genitals, and thighs, stand like cops waiting for a riot, their hands clasped in front of their stomachs, their gazes fixed straight ahead. Each man stands alone in a safe pocket of yellow tape. Around him is a football field’s worth of empty land. The only thing you hear in a minefield is the sound of breathing.