Hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, have been affected by landmines and other explosive items planted by Houthi militias, an advisor to the Minister of Youth and Sports has said.
Since 2015, Yemen’s Houthi militia, have and are still routinely employing landmines directly against civilians – extensively and indiscriminately. Deployed offensively, landmines are sowed to depopulate areas. Terrorised civilian populations are forced to leave their cities and villages, agricultural land and schools. Mines disrupt the transport of goods, medical supplies and aid; further deepening the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Speaking after the announcement of the renewal of Project Masam’s operation in Yemen for a fourth year, Dawood Alwaan, who is an advisor to Minister Nayef al-Bakri, said there are more landmines in Yemen than originally thought.
“Mines in Yemen are now numbering in the millions because the Houthi militia […] planted mines everywhere: in the reefs, valleys and seas. They do not care who will be hit by these landmines, whether civilian or military; man, woman or child; whether young or old. All these criteria do not concern them, as all they care about is destabilising Yemen by planting landmines to kill the largest number of Yemenis,” Alwaan told Project Masam.
Hundreds of thousands affected
“Today we know that hundreds of thousands of children and women have been affected by these landmines,” Alwaan added.
Landmines affect civilians both directly and indirectly. Whilst civilians face the risk of being maimed or killed by these explosive devices, they may also be driven out of their homes or farmland whether the landmine risk is unknown or known, thus losing access to essential resources such as water, food and livelihoods. Landmine survivors may also face stigma and discrimination from their own family or the community around them, making their reintegration more difficult.
Considering the potential humanitarian catastrophe brought by landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) still laying in civilians areas, the advisor to the Minister said that those in charge of Project Masam “should intensify their efforts” in humanitarian mine clearance.
“It is good news that Project Masam’s contract for demining in Yemen has been renewed for the fourth year. This project is considered one of the most important interventions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Yemen,” Alwaan said on the behalf of al-Bakri, who was appointed as Minister of Youth and Sports in September 2015 in the cabinet of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah.
Since it first entered Yemen in mid-2018, Project Masam has located and destroyed 265,037 explosive devices, effectively clearing 24,938,592sqm of Yemeni liberated land by removing 3,991 anti-personnel mines, 84,839 anti-tank mines, 6,081 IEDs and 170,126 UXO (as at 31 July 2021).