Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Houthi landmines hinder humanitarian efforts in Yemen

Iran-backed rebels' explosives have killed more than 140 people since 2018, Human Rights Watch says

Explosives experts collect mines and explosives allegedly planted by the Houthi rebels, at the port city of Hodeidah in December 2018. EPA
Explosives experts collect mines and explosives allegedly planted by the Houthi rebels, at the port city of Hodeidah in December 2018. EPA

The widespread use of landmines by Yemen’s Houthi rebels are killing civilians and blocking crucial aid being delivered to the war-torn country, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

More than 140 people, including 19 children, have been killed in Taez and Hodeidah since 2018 after the rebels covered farmland, wells and roads with mines, the watchdog said in a new report.

“Houthi-laid landmines have not only killed and maimed civilians, but they have prevented vulnerable Yemenis from harvesting crops and drawing clean water desperately needed for survival,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, its acting emergencies director.

“Mines have also prevented aid groups from bringing food and health care to increasingly hungry and ill Yemeni civilians."

The human rights group urged the rebels to immediately stop using mines.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government say it considers the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which the country ratified in 1998, to be binding.

Houthi authorities in Sanaa told the watchdog that they recognised the treaty.

But humanitarian workers from three aid groups said that landmines and unexploded ordnance stopped their organisations reaching communities in need.

Aid workers said landmines prevented them from taking unpaved roads to reach communities in need in western coastal areas including Mawzaa, Waziiyah, Mokha and Tuhayta.

The mines are stopping displaced families returning home.

The watchdog said that operations to remove mines were being carried out by teams including military engineering defusers loyal to the Yemeni government and backed by the UAE along the western coast.

Officers have been injured or killed during clearance operations, the organisation said.

Meanwhile, the UN is struggling to implement a peace deal agreed at talks last December in Sweden, the first major breakthrough in peace efforts to end the war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

Agreements on a ceasefire and a troop withdrawal from the port city of Hodeidah were reached at the talks, which were considered confidence-building steps paving the way for talks to set up a transitional government.

But the deal is yet to be implemented because of Houthi breaches.

Updated: April 23, 2019 09:06 AM

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