Europe

Second anniversary of Belgium militant attack brings back painful memories

People attend a ceremony at the Maelbeek metro station to commemorate two years since bombings at Brussels airport and a metro station, in Brussels

People attend a ceremony at the Maelbeek metro station to commemorate two years since bombings at Brussels airport and a metro station, in Brussels, Belgium March 22, 2018. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

By Farah Salhi and Samantha Koester

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The second anniversary of a militant attack in Belgium in which 32 people died brings back painful memories for Walter Benjamin, whose right leg was partially amputated because he was caught in a bomb blast at the airport.

The government said last year it would grant survivors victim status, making them eligible for a pension and reimbursement for medical costs but Benjamin said Belgium has done too little to help survivors return to their daily lives.

“It’s the government’s responsibility to protect its own citizens,” said Benjamin, who wrote a book to help him cope. “People have been abandoned.”

Soldiers have patrolled Brussels since three young Belgian Muslims blew themselves up with suitcase bombs at the Maelbeek metro station and Zaventem airport on March 22, 2016.

But Benjamin and other victims say they still have security concerns as they deal with the memory of the attacks.

Philippe Vansteenkiste’s sister was killed in the attack and he now runs a group for victims. He said there were around 500 direct and indirect victims and more were coming forward.

“People walked away thinking ‘I was lucky, I escaped,’ but then PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) starts,” Vansteenkiste said.

Benjamin was on his way to visit his 16-year-old daughter in Israel when the airport bombs went off. In the aftermath, he said a Muslim man came to his aid. He recalled the moment to argue that not all Muslims should be blamed for the attacks.

Since then, Benjamin finds himself hurrying through airport terminals and security checks. Talking to other survivors and fellow amputees, he says, has helped him heal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Writing by Samantha Koester and Lucasta Bath; Reporting by Farah Salhi and Natalie Rice; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

 

Advertisements

Categories: Europe, News Wire, World News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s