30 Years in Hell


«Time is my worst enemy now”, Said Muhammed Fadel (59) says and fixes his eyes on something far above the dirty ceiling of his room in Cheid Cherif Center for landmine victims.

“We were on our way back to the front, and just started driving again after a tea break in the sand when it happened. The driver hit a rock and lost control over the vehicle. The dirt-road was cleared of landmines, the sides of it weren’t. So when the car left the track where others had driven before us we hit a powerful anti-tank mine. The explosion killed the driver instantly and injured the rest of us. I woke up two weeks later, like this.

Said lifts a deformed, trembling hand. His right arm is the only limb below his neck he can move. The dark room in the center for landmine victims has been Said’s home for the last 12 years. Before that he was cared for at a military hospital. Sometimes his brother and his two nephews come to visit, but most of the time he is left alone.

“I was married at the time, but she divorced me when it was clear that I couldn’t be a husband to her – just a burden”.
He blinks a couple of times before he starts staring at the invisible spot above the ceiling again.

Said’s fate is shared by thousands of other Saharawi. There are reportedly 2,500 casualties as a result of landmines and cluster munitions in Western Sahara, but official statistics are not available and the number is thought to be much higher. Action on Armed Violence (former Landmine Action) states that not only do mines and cluster munitions kill and maim people for life, these dangerous items also prevent people from earning a living, in what is already one of the most challenging physical environments on earth. Some 2500 people have been killed or injured by landmines and cluster munitions since the conflict started in 1975.

“Time is killing me”, Said says.

“I can’t even sleep anymore. I’m just laying on my back waiting for the hours to pass. October 31 I have my 30th anniversary as a landmine victim. Not much to celebrate, is it?”

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22 Responses to “30 Years in Hell”

  1. wow. amazing story. thanks so much for the discipline of sharing these while you travel. z

  2. Thank you for the enlightenment about landmines and the destruction it leaves behind…no words can describe this awful mess.

  3. I can’t bring myself to click the Like button. The post is an enlightenment of the horrors a world away from our freedoms and abundance that we take so for granted. I will say prayers for all of these victims, especially Said.

  4. I won’t click ‘like’ because this is not a story that one can draw pleasure from. However it is a powerful story and the picture says so much.

  5. The thread of time. Mine moves too quickly. The alternative is too painful even to imagine. I feel for those suffering such a fate. The images will remain on my eyelids for quite a while.

  6. I did click the “like” button, as repulsive as it felt, if only to add to the numbers of people who are counted as opposing such horrors.

  7. Tragedy upon tragedy.. thank you for reminding us of the lasting horror of war.

  8. I don’t really” like” this but it is a story that needs to be listened to, what can we do? What a horrid nightmare this poor man lives. That photo is very unnerving.

  9. Tragic, but this kind of thing needs to be known. Thank you for posting it. The photo really does say so much.

  10. Something to think about when we find ourselves complaining about our own lives. Thank you.

  11. Sterke inntrykk i foto og tekst!

  12. Unfortunately, a very stark reality. Your work of telling the story is important.

  13. Thank you for shedding light on the devastating issue and the fate of Said and so many others like him.

  14. So sad “Time is killing me.” It’s hard to imagine how difficult this is. The photo as well is very telling.

  15. actually I don’t like it -

  16. Meanwhile someone, somewhere is making a tidy profit from the manufacture and sales of arms and munitions which only serve to advance the wretched misery for too many . . .

  17. Some artist should paint a beautiful mural for his ceiling.

  18. What a story! And, sadly, there are many like this.
    Thank you for sharing

  19. Asria Mohamed Taleb Says:

    With bitterness I was struggling to read Sad story. All what I feel right now is anger and bitterness. Why the international community left Said and thousnds of Saharawi in this open hursh life. As person who experince a life there, writing my littel book, selling it and sending the money to the center where said lives was all what I could. I feel powerless and so grateful that you guys high light on this forgotten place.

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