UAE Armed Forces clear 20,000 landmines across Yemen
The mines are suspected to have been illegally planted by rebel Houthi militias
UAE Armed Forces have cleared more than 20,000 landmines across Yemen, according to state news agency Wam.
The illegal mines were removed from areas stretching across the Red Sea Coast over an eight-month period.
It is suspected the mines first began to be planted by rebel Houthi militias after the Saudi-led Arab Coalition moved forces into the country to restore Yemen’s legitimate government.
Specialists within the UAE Armed Force have trained 65 Yemeni volunteers to safely excavate the suspected areas, a de-mining expert told Wam.
He said 90 per cent of the explosives dug up are Iranian-made and patterned after the Russian TM-57 mine – that can blast armoured fighting vehicles.
"The mines are being detonated in safe areas as per the latest international standards," he said, adding that most of the mines were found in areas adjacent to heavily populated districts.
The mines planted in mountainous areas are disguised as rocks but are also concealed in sandy dunes, he said.
Health professionals and local activists estimate that thousands of civilians have been injured or killed by the explosives.
Emirates Red Crescent, the UAE's main humanitarian arm, is covering treatment costs for those injured in the blasts, according to Juma Al Mazroui, head of the ERC team in Aden.
“Up to 4,000 wounded Yemenis have been treated in the UAE, Jordan, Sudan and India, some of whom have already recovered and returned home, while the rest are still being treated," he said.
"The military field hospital staged by the UAE received up to 2,500 persons injured by mines in four months, some of whom are critically wounded," said Mohammed Abdullah, the head of the hospital's medical team.
Dr Ishraq Al Sibai, the undersecretary of Yemen’s Ministry of Health, described the landmines as a “stab in the back” by Houthi militias.
She said the illegal mines have triggered a humanitarian crisis in the country and left thousands of people in Yemen’s Red Sea Coast with disabilities.
Saleh Abdu, a father to six children, lost both his legs in a landmine explosion.
"The Houthis planted booby-traps in front of our houses in a way that was impossible for the families to take any precaution of pre-emptive measures,” Mr Abdu said.
He said the mines killed some of the villagers and left others disabled.
"I lost consciousness after the explosive went off. And later I came to know that people around me carried me to Mocha Hospital and later to the military field hospital run by the UAE Armed Forces."
Samira Mahmoud, a mother of two, had her right hand amputated after a landmine explosion destroyed her home. "We were expelled from our homes by Houthis," she said.
The mines have also taken their toll on the elderly, leaving some without families to support them.
"I was sitting in front of my house waiting for my grandchildren to come and take me for lunch, then I heard a massive explosion inside the house," said 78-year-old Saleh.
He said his son ran out to rescue the rest of the family only to trigger another explosion which left all of Saleh’s sons, their wives and children dead.
Khalil Ahmed, a 10-year-old Yemeni, was another victim of the explosives.
He was playing with his friends from in Al Ruweis Village in Mocha when he heard a blast. Debris sprayed across the area and tore through his body. Khalil was rushed to the military field hospital where he underwent a two-hour surgery to remove the shrapnel. He was airlifted to UAE to continue his recovery.
Updated: March 14, 2018 04:22 PM