Houthi mines are lurking in the Yemenis, despite the entry of the truce into its second year
While the Saudi Demining Project in Yemen (Masam) announced that its teams had removed 400,000 Houthi mines and unexploded ordnance since it began its work, the Houthis’ uncleared mines are still hunting civilians in more than one governorate, despite the calm entering its second year.
In the eastern province of Hodeidah (west), Hassan – a father of six children – was forced to flee on a difficult journey that began in 2015; Where he was forced to search for a source of income at a time when it became rare to find work, after the Houthis disrupted state institutions, cut the salaries of employees, and used the revenues for their war effort.
However, the life of displacement is not limited to the search for a source of livelihood, as there are minefields that the Houthis randomly deployed on farms, roads, and in the midst of residential communities; Where it continues to hunt civilians.
Hassan says that his wife had to work on a farm, to help cover some of the basic needs of the family, while he used his own car to deliver orders to families at the displacement site. However, the sharp rise in fuel prices and the frequent health care needs of his children forced him to significantly reduce his expenses. Growing at the expense of providing for his family’s needs.
As a result, the family’s condition worsened when the youngest son fell ill with frequent bouts of fever, leaving him in a weakened state. It was very painful for the father to see his son writhing in pain, and he had no money to take him to the hospital in time. When his illness became severe, he decided to sell his car to cover the expenses of his treatment. However, the child’s health did not improve due to severe malnutrition, which led to more distress for the family, before it received support from an internationally supported medical center.
The suffering of the population in the south and east of Hodeidah is not limited to the lack of livelihood opportunities and health care; Rather, they suffer from the large and indiscriminate spread of mines planted by the Houthis. During the month of April, the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement recorded 6 incidents of landmine explosions, which led to 13 civilian casualties, a decrease of 13 percent compared to the same month last year.
During the period from March 22 to April 21, 22 victims were recorded as a result of 10 accidents, compared to 15 victims resulting from 9 incidents last Ramadan, while the Deputy Head of the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement, Vivian Van de Berry, stressed that The importance of providing support to mine survivors and their families.
Hodeidah… half of the victims
According to the United Nations Development Programme, landmines and unexploded ordnance have significant economic and social impacts on Yemenis in urban and rural areas, and constitute major constraints to development; Large areas have been contaminated with millions of landmines and explosive remnants of war, making many residential neighborhoods uninhabitable or dangerous.
The program indicates that it continues to support the development of national mine action infrastructure, its restructuring where appropriate, and direct support to the mine action sector, with the aim of intervention in accordance with national mine action standards coordinated by national mine action authorities.
Non-governmental organizations also continue their work in this field, such as the Geneva International Center for Demining, the Danish Refugee Council, the Norwegian People’s Aid Organization, and “Hello Trust”, in the areas of the internationally recognized legitimate government, and vigorous efforts are being made to start their operations in areas under the control of Houthis as soon as possible.
The United Nations stresses that nationwide mine action activities, including mine clearance, mine risk education, victim assistance, technical and non-technical surveys, and explosive ordnance disposal, are urgently needed to allow safe passage for civilians and life-saving humanitarian assistance.
According to the Civilian Impact of Conflict Monitoring Project, the western coast of Yemen has recorded more than half of the ERW casualties from civilians across the country; Explosive remnants of war were responsible for 121 civilian casualties in the first quarter of 2023, down from 140 in the fourth quarter of last year.
The UN report confirms that the first quarter of this year was no exception, as it was reported that half of the victims of explosive remnants of war were in Al-Hodeidah, and after that comes Al-Jawf governorate; Where 19 civilian casualties were reported as a result of Houthi mines, then Marib governorate with eight victims; The torrential rains washed away the mines.
According to the report, during the first four months of this year, demining teams at the Yemeni Executive Mine Action Center cleared lands in 157 different directorates in 18 governorates, and removed a total of 88,006 pieces of various materials (mines, improvised explosive devices, and unmanned ordnance). explosives, etc.).
14 fields in Marib
As for Marib governorate, the mines planted extensively and indiscriminately by the Houthis are still lurking in Yemeni civilians, and their danger increased with the advent of the summer rainy season. Where the torrents wash away quantities of mines to other areas and to farms and dirt roads.
The health authorities in Marib governorate recorded multiple injuries as a result of landmines among women and children. Most of them live in poor living conditions in the camps for the displaced in Al-Wadi district. Thousands of families were displaced as a result of the Houthi escalation in the south of the governorate early last year, which increased their suffering.
For his part, the commander of Team 12 in the Saudi Demining Project (Masam) confirmed that his team managed to secure 14 minefields during the past year, in several villages and populated areas in the Harib district, west of Marib governorate.
He said that the fields that his team was able to secure are located in the areas of: Al-Hashfa, Al-Hishah, Umm Risha, and others, stressing that the team extracted more than 430 mines and explosive devices from those fields.
In the meantime, the Saudi project announced that its teams had managed to remove 400,000 mines and explosive shells, and its director, Osama Al-Qusaibi, confirmed that the project harnesses its field, technical, and media energies for its noble goal, and that it will spare no effort for that at all.
Al-Gosaibi added that the extraction of 400 thousand mines and unexploded ordnance is an incentive to move forward towards the desired goal, which is “Yemen without mines”, stressing that the project has so far managed to clear more than 46 million square meters of Yemeni lands, which were rigged with ammunition, mines and explosive devices. .