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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-10-14

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, October 14, 2001


  • [01] Minefields at Pyla to be cleared
  • [02] Do tourists feel safe here?
  • [03] 'I was shocked: they made me feel like a second class person'

  • [01] Minefields at Pyla to be cleared

    By Jean Christou

    The government has pledged to clear three minefields around the mixed buffer-zone village of Pyla by the end of the year, according to an international report on landmines.

    The 2001 publication of Landmine Monitor , an initiative of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, said it had been told of the move by the Foreign Ministry.

    It also said the Defence Ministry has reported that in the past ten years " a great number"of minefields has been removed. It quoted a figure of 3,000 mines. There is " a technical report concerning the laying for every minefield and... metallic bases have been placed by plastic mines so that they can be located easily by mine detectors,"the report said.

    In its report for 2000 Landmine Monitorcriticised Cyprus for its failure to take steps to ratify the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, saying the continuous refurbishment of minefields was a serious breach of the spirit of the treaty the government signed in 1997.

    This year's report said the key development over the past 12 months was the promise by the government to ratify the treaty following the May 2001 parliamentary elections. Parliament resumed two weeks ago but the issue has not yet been tabled.

    Landmine Monitoralso said that the Defence Ministry told the organisation that steps had been taken in the spirit of the treaty such as demining, exclusion of antipersonnel mines from armament programmes, and a schedule for the destruction of stocks of anti-personnel mines.

    " UNIFCYP has been reported as saying that some minefields laid down in the buffer-zone 27 years ago no longer have any tactical benefits, but refurbishment of minefields outside the buffer zone by Greek Cypriot and Turkish forces has been reported previously by UNFICYP,"the report said.

    " In one case during 2000, where a minefield lay partly inside and partly outside the buffer zone, the National Guard refurbished the antitank mines in the part of the minefield lying outside the buffer zone."

    In 1995 it was estimated that close to 17,000 landmines had been laid in and around the buffer zone and on this side since 1974. It is not known how many exist to the north. The number of minefields inside the buffer zone now numbers 48 compared with the previously quoted figure of 38, while there are more than 70 known or suspected minefields within 400 metres of the 180-km long division.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Do tourists feel safe here?

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TOURISM to Cyprus took a nosedive in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, and it has worsened since the US-led bombing campaign began last Sunday.

    Although most potential tourists are adopting a 'wait and see'attitude, others had already booked holidays to Cyprus before the crisis -- and decided to come, despite having misgivings. Some tourists we spoke to this week expressed no concern at all that Cyprus might be unsafe, but others were a still jittery.

    Jim McKechnie, 51, and his wife Marie, 48, from Scotland said they did not feel safe coming to Cyprus. "I think if we hadn't booked the holiday we might have left it alone,"said Marie.

    "It's so close to Syria and places like that. Logistically speaking it is a terrorist target, because of the airfields and what you have here. Yes, I think it is a big target,"Jim added.

    He believes that both Cypriots and Americans are in danger on the island because terrorists do not recognise nationality. "Anybody can be at risk, "he said.

    The couple supported Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to involve Britain in the Afghanistan campaign, even though it leaves them feeling only "relatively safe"back at home.

    "He had to do something. You couldn't just let them get away with it,"Jim said.

    He said the battle against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist organisation, al Qaeda, was "a worldwide issue", not just one for the US and Britain. "We are talking about terrorists here, who terrorise people. Ordinary people. You're scared to take your kids to school. You're scared to drink water. That's terrorising and there's got to be a stop to it,"he added.

    Ken and Pat Pattison, also from Britain, admitted they had some trepidation about going ahead with their booked holiday to Cyprus in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. They arrived before the US-led bombardment of Afghanistan, with British support, began on Sunday.

    "I felt a bit wary about coming, but now I'm here I don't feel threatened at all,"said Pat. Ken agreed, pointing out that "the security is that tight at the airport in Cyprus that you can't help but feel safe".

    The Pattisons admitted that they hadn't been listening to the news because they had come on holiday to get away from all of it.Both said that they feel safe back in England, because they don't live in a big city and feel the chances of a terrorist attack in their area are slim.

    Asked if she believed Cyprus was a possible terrorist target, frequent flyer Judy Barham, 49, from England said:"It could be. Anything can be these days, can't it?"She admitted having reservations about getting on a plane to come to Cyprus because she said everyone now fears a possible hijacking.

    "I don't think anywhere is safe these days. Terrorism is worldwide now, isn't it?"she said, admitting that even England might not be safe any more. Barham believes that Blair's involvement could endanger Britain and that he has turned himself into a target for extremist Muslims.

    "I don't even know if bombing is going to be the answer anyway. I still think he (bin Laden) should be brought to a European Court or something like that to answer for his crimes -- if he is the person who did it,"she said.

    "I don't wholly agree"with Blair supporting US President George Bush :because I don't think it's going to solve anything really", she added.

    Tourists who were not at all concerned about being in Cyprus during such an uncertain period internationally, and who also seemed unworried about their safety at home, included Rolf and Monica Johnsson from Sweden.

    But there are still places in the region they plan to avoid in the near future. "Next year we wanted to go to Thailand, however you have to stop over in Dubai and we are afraid of doing that so we have chosen to stay at home,"Rolf told the Sunday Mail .

    Viggo and Helga Henrikson from Norway expressed similar sentiments about Cyprus. "But the terrorists are stealing our lives and we don't like that, "said Viggo, 60.

    He and his wife were not overly concerned about any possible terrorist attacks in Norway. They said it might be possible, although "it wouldn't be the first place the terrorists target".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] 'I was shocked: they made me feel like a second class person'

    By Rita Kyriakides

    A TRENDY pub in Nicosia's popular Engomi district left a disabled man shocked and disappointed when bouncers refused him entry, claiming his wheelchair would 'bother' the other customers.

    Haris Theocharous, 21, has been wheelchair-bound for eight months after a car accident left him paralysed.

    Last Saturday he arrived at the trendy nightspot at 2am to meet some of his friends who were already inside. He was at first disappointed to see there was no ramp allowing him easy access to the building.

    Disappointment turned to shock when he was stopped at the door.

    The bouncer allegedly told him that there was no space inside, despite the fact that he had a reservation and his friends were waiting for him.

    He said one of the managers came out of the pub and told him that there was no space and that he would 'disturb the people' inside if he attempted to enter. Theocharous said he pleaded with the manager to allow him to go in through a back door so that customers would not be bothered but said he was still refused entry.

    In the meantime, despite the manager's insistence that there was no space, other people were being allowed in, he said.

    " I was shocked by the way they treated me. They made me feel like a second class person,"he told the Sunday Mail . " Things like this should not be allowed to happen in this day and age."

    One of the pub's employees insisted this week that they were not at fault and that they had already discussed the matter with the Cyprus Paraplegics Organisation (OPAK).

    " Haris was very upset about what happened, so we phoned the pub to get their side of the story,"said a source within OPAK.

    They were told that the reason Theocharous was not allowed to enter was because the pub was too full, but that if he had arrived before midnight they would have allowed him in.

    " This particular pub did the same thing to another disabled person two years ago. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it,"said the source.

    Despite Cyprus' much trumpeted success in harmonising with European standards, paraplegic organisations say little has been done for handicapped people -- especially concerning unhindered movement and access to public facilities.

    Access to buildings is one of the most significant obstacles for the disabled -- many have steps and few have ramps, making shops and offices virtual obstacle courses for the island's 750 wheelchair-bound people.

    " Unfortunately very few of the restaurants, cafés or cinemas in Nicosia are wheelchair-friendly, and nothing is being done to rectify the situation, "the OPAK source said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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