Sum required for works at Dikomo landfill for missing “huge” but CMP will proceed, the Committee’s Greek Cypriot member tells CNA

The amount of money needed for works at Dikomo landfill, where the remains of approximately 70 Greek Cypriots are believed to be buried, is huge, close to 10 million euro, but we cannot but to proceed as we have reliable information, said Leonidas Pantelides, the Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP), in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency.

The 70 persons from Assia village were killed during the 1974 Turkish invasion at Ornithi and later their remains were removed by the illegal regime in the occupied areas and were buried at a landfill at Dikomo during the 90’s.

The landfill was later closed and underwent works. All the garbage, tons of waste, were buried under what is seen today as a huge hill. The works with EU funding were overseen by a Portuguese expert.

This expert visited Cyprus a several times in the past few months and prepared a very detailed report of 80 pages citing all risks and dangers associated with works to locate the remains of the Greek Cypriots who are believed to be buried in three spots along a road that was used by tracks to carry the waste.

Pantelides said that they will get in touch with donors to secure the money, adding that works will take approximately 5-6 years to be concluded.

He explained that the report cites step by step all the works that are needed in order to locate the remains which will take place in three phases, all the technical difficulties and risks.

Pantelides said that CMP’s job will begin once a company, that will be hired to move the tons of garbage, will finish its work and the road is unearthed.

Then the archeologists will start digging the place in an effort to locate the remains. He explained that the garbage need to be transferred elsewhere and this is an issue we are faced with as there are environmental risks. During the last phase the garbage will be transferred back to the pit and the whole place will be handed as it was seen before the excavations.

CMP member told the Cyprus News Agency that when the garbage was buried there, pipes were placed for the methane to be extracted and these pipes need to also be removed. He said that the Portuguese expert knows the technicalities associated with the pipe system and he must be present to oversee the whole project.

He also added that when CMP archeologists start digging, there is a serious risk of inhaling a dangerous gas in the lower level of the ground. The sides of the hill could also collapse, he added, therefore we are faced with all these hazards when we will carry out the job.

The expert’s report will be used as a manual for all the works.

In addition, a separate team of archeologists will be working at the landfill because CMP wishes for the whole excavation and exhumation program not to be hindered. A separate risk has to do with not getting permission from the environmental authorities of the illegal regime in the occupied areas, an issue that worries CMP.

The information for the Greek Cypriots’ remains moved to Dikomo landfill comes from a very reliable source who spoke to the third member of the CMP and the Turkish Cypriot member in 2019. The third member then prepared a detailed report with all the information. This source never spoke to the Greek Cypriot member’s office.

The initial information said that at Ornithi approximately 70 people were killed and 68 were identified.

The missing persons’ list includes 2,002 people of whom 492 are Turkish Cypriot and 1,510 are Greek Cypriot.

CMP, Pantelides said, of course works and makes efforts to locate all of them and we hope we do find them. The information keeps coming in but time is not on our side, he told the Cyprus News Agency.

A total of seven teams work for excavations and exhumations, one in the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus and 6 in the Turkish-occupied areas, including one in military areas.

Recently the remains of three people, Turkish Cypriots, were found in a well in Troulloi village in Larnaka district. They believed to be missing persons from the 1964 period.

Pantelides told the Cyprus News Agency that they get a lot of information for wells, some 200 cases. A new method is now used to clean the well, which takes less time, and if human remains are located, then the archeologists go down and start digging with the traditional ways.

An excavation is also ongoing at Strovolos area for the remains of Turkish Cypriots.

Pantelides said that the last time remains of Turkish Cypriots were found was 7 years ago, therefore this development is hopeful and positive.

In the occupied areas the ongoing works are at a well in Afaneia, in Templos, in Petra tou Digeni, in Kontea, Agios Amvrosios and Kionelli.

Remains were found in Agios Amvrosios and Petra tou Digeni which likely belong to 2 people. The remains in Agios Amvrosios could belong to civilians from neighboring villages who went missing in 1974.

Works are now done with the use of drones and scanning and new methods are also used to combine information.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.

A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning to their relatives the remains of 492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots, who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963-1964 and in 1974.

Source: Cyprus News Agency