Arab Press

بالشعب و للشعب
Sunday, Apr 02, 2023

Houthi land mines killed 32 Yemenis this year

Houthi land mines killed 32 Yemenis this year

At least 32 Yemeni civilians have been killed and 42 others injured by land mines planted by Houthis since the start of the year, according to Yemeni Landmine Records — a group that tracks civilian land mine fatalities in the country.
The group said it had recorded 41 explosions caused by land mines, ordnance, or other explosive devices that had killed 32 civilians — including 14 children and a woman — and wounded 42 others including 15 children and a woman in January.

Civilian casualties due to land mines have increased despite the cessation of hostilities during the truce brokered by the United Nations in April, it added.

Hodeidah was the province with the highest number of civilians killed by land mines, with 18 deaths including eight children and a woman, and 20 injuries, including 11 children.

Next on the list were Jouf, Marib, Saada, and Hajjah.

“The intensity of military activities has diminished over the last several months, but mines and other war leftovers continue to kill and harm people. They have aggravated misery and hindered the return of some displaced families to their homes and farmers to their jobs,” Fares Al-Hemyari, Yemeni Landmine Records’ executive manager, said in a statement.

Al-Hemyari’s organization is one of many local and international rights groups to say that thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed or injured since the beginning of the Iran-backed Houthis’ expansion across the country following their military seizure in late 2014.

They accuse the Houthis of randomly planting land mines in former battlefields and refusing to hand over maps indicating where those land mines are located.

The most recent verified victims of Houthi land mines were two children: Khalil Yahiya, 12, and Saber Mohammed, 15, from the city of Hodeidah, according to Yemeni Landmine Records. The group also reported that 14 Yemeni civilians had been killed or wounded in Jouf, Hodeidah, Saada, Hajjah, and Lahj in the 48 hours before its announcement.

The Saudi-funded Project Masam — a demining program in Yemen — has reported that the Houthis have transformed Yemen into the largest land mine field in the world by planting tens of thousands of the devices.

Masam said its field deminers removed 4,615 land mines, unexploded ordnance, and other devices from approximately 968,000 square meters of ground in January, bringing the total number of defused land mines and other explosive devices to 384,220 from 43,612,000 square meters of Yemeni soil since the project was launched in 2018.

Yemeni deminers say that the majority of recent civilian deaths in the province of Hodeidah happened in regions held by the Houthis.

Salem Hemaid, head of Masam’s demining team, told Arab News on Saturday that they are racing against time to avoid human casualties and enable displaced residents to return home.

“The absence of maps, vast swaths of contaminated ground, and the indiscriminate placement of land mines are our greatest obstacles,” Hemaid said, adding that the Houthis had laid land mines in numerous Hodeidah districts abandoned by the Yemeni government’s Joint Forces in late 2021.

Hemaid’s crew removed over 25,000 land mines in 2022 in 16 communities in Hodeidah, he said.

“The Houthis thoroughly mined the shoreline, as well as the locations and barricades from which the Joint Forces withdrew so that if they returned they would be blown up by the mines,” Hemaid said.

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