Retreating militiamen have left behind a plague of of landmines, says Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance
Houthis planted 1 million mines in Yemen: Saudi organisation
Houthi rebels in Yemen may have planted up to one million landmines over the past three years, a new Saudi clearing organisation has claimed.
The Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (MASAM) launched in June with the aim of making Yemen landmine free.
In the first few weeks of its operation on the ground in Yemen, its clearance teams removed 919 mines and explosive charges, director general Osama Al Qasibi said, but up to one million mines could remain in the ground.
"Most of these are internationally banned anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines that originate from different sources in addition to 288 locally devised or Iranian made mines," he told UAE state news agency WAM.
Houthi rebels, which are battling against the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, have relied on mines as part of an irregular warfare strategy. The group is believed to receive material support from Iran.
One particular tactic MASAM fieldworkers have seen involves turning anti-vehicle mines into anti-personnel mines, Mr Al Qasibi said.
The 1997 Ottawa Treaty prohibits the use and production of anti-personnel mines – those which are designed to kill or maim people. Yemen is a signatory to what is one of the world’s most widely-accepted treaties.
Civilians in Yemen have borne the brunt of these indiscriminate weapons. In the past three years, landmines have killed 1194 civilians in Yemen, including 216 children, Mr Al Qasibi said.
MASAM has teams working in Taiz, the Red Sea Coast, Beihan, Osailaan, Saada, Shabwa and Marib. It is also training Yemeni specialists in mine clearance.