War in the Med

Si­mon Reeve vis­its Mediter­ranean coun­tries torn apart by con­flicts…

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As Si­mon Reeve con­tin­ues his jour­ney around the Mediter­ranean, he heads into the snowy land­scape of the Cypriot moun­tains.

‘Most of the time, we think of Cyprus as be­ing a place for Sum­mer sun,’ he says. ‘But there’s a whole world up here away from the beaches.’

De­spite its beauty, Cyprus is a coun­try ripped apart by decades of fight­ing be­tween Greek Chris­tian Cypri­ots and Turk­ish Mus­lim Cypri­ots.

The is­land’s cap­i­tal, Ni­cosia, is di­vided in two, with a buf­fer zone in the mid­dle guarded by UN peace­keep­ers.

Bit­ter di­vide

‘In Cyprus, there seems to be very lit­tle prospect of a res­o­lu­tion,’ says Si­mon. ‘Here, now, there’s a bit­ter di­vide.’

In Le­banon, 200 miles away, Si­mon is given a bird’s-eye view of the coun­try when he goes paraglid­ing with his guide Raja Saade, be­fore sleep­ing in an an­cient aban­doned Chris­tian monastery built into caves. He then heads to Is­rael, where he joins the se­cu­rity forces keep­ing watch over the na­tion’s re­cently dis­cov­ered gas re­serves.

‘These gas re­serves are gamechang­ers for Is­rael,’ says Si­mon. ‘But in se­cu­rity terms, they are sit­ting ducks.’

For his next stop, Si­mon makes the dan­ger­ous cross­ing into Gaza, where Western­ers are at risk of kid­nap, be­ing shot or caught up in a mil­i­tary strike. Here, peo­ple sur­vive on less than $2 a day, and Si­mon joins fish­er­men who are try­ing to feed their fam­i­lies from the de­pleted wa­ters of their au­tho­rised fish­ing zones.

‘The si­t­u­a­tion here is shock­ing and mad­den­ing,’ says Si­mon. ‘I refuse to pick a side. So many op­por­tu­ni­ties for last­ing peace have been lost here and we see two sides seem­ing in many ways to move fur­ther apart, not closer to­gether.’

Shocked… Si­mon ex­plores the dark side ofthe sun-soaked re­gion

Split in two… How the city of Ni­cosia has been di­vided High fly­ers… Raja (left) and Si­mon in Le­banon

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