2015 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Europe--Making Home Safe

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Date: 2015 Description: Zahid and Zilha Cikmis sitting outside their rebuilt home.  © Photo courtesy of ITF.

Zahid and Zilha Cikmis live in Ravne, a small village in the municipality of Vares in Bosnia and Herzegovina that was on the front lines of the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. Heavy artillery shelling during the war forced them to flee their home and they were unable to return for 11 years. Tragically, they lost their son in the war as well. Today, both in their mid-70’s and retired, they have returned home to a village that is making slow and steady progress in safely clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance from the surrounding community.

Approximately 350 people in Ravne have returned to their homes as a result of PM/WRA-financed clearance operations. With U.S. support, the Slovenian-based nongovernmental organization ITF Enhancing Human Security finished clearing the area around the Cikmis’ former home in July 2014. While waiting for their house to be rebuilt with the help of donations, they lived in a container. The loss of her son makes Zilha feel that she will never again be happy, but she is relieved that she can now walk safely in her garden. Meanwhile, the nearby forest remains marked with landmine warning signs. She hopes that she will be able to return there to collect mushrooms, as she did in the days before the war.