Gardening in the crosshairs
Wayne's KeepREAD STORY
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Cemetery in buffer zone
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Just getting to work is a real challenge for one of our Cyprus-based teams.
The cemetery in question is less than an hour from our Mediterranean head office and sits just on the outskirts of the country’s capital.
The difficulty comes from the important invisible lines that surround Nicosia War Cemetery, or Wayne’s Keep as it’s often known.
Since the 1970s the disputed border between the southern and northern parts of the island has run right across the cemetery.
One side believes it sits in the buffer zone, the other, that it sits firmly inside their territory.
In places, the buffer zone is so untouched by human influence that species thought long extinct have been spotted.
Throughout half a century of land disputes, the Commission’s commitment has been difficult but not impossible to fulfil. Within this sliver of no man’s land, we are tasked with maintaining the graves of more than 200 Second World War dead and a series of memorials.
Next to them are close to 600 British military dead, servicemen stationed on the island after the War when it was still part of the British Empire or as part of the United Nations task force deployed to enforce the uneasy peace between north and south. CWGC continues to take responsibility for their graves on behalf of the MOD.
To undertake even the most minor of work to the various sections of this cemetery, staff and contractors must gain special permission and be accompanied by a UN escort. Armed guards on the northern side are always present.
Surely there are few other gardeners in the world who mow the lawn under such watchful eyes.
As tensions rise and fall CWGC’s work continues to get caught in the mix. On more than one occasion people have been asked to leave the site by armed guards. For those living on the island, the presence of the border and the buffer zone is a part of daily life. We are in no position to challenge or question the wider situation.
Instead, we must continue to work peacefully with all involved to ensure those buried in the crosshairs of today’s dispute are not forgotten.