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Rights Group: Houthi Mines Kill Yemenis, Hinder Aid Delivery

Rights Group: Houthi Mines Kill Yemenis, Hinder Aid Delivery

Tuesday, 23 April, 2019 - 07:00
Explosives experts collect mines and IEDs planted by the Houthi at the port city of Hodeidah in December 2018. (EPA)
Riyadh - Abdulhadi Habtor
The widespread use of landmines by the Iran-backed Houthi militias along Yemen’s western coast since mid-2017 has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and prevented aid groups from reaching vulnerable communities, said an international rights group.

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch said landmines planted in farmlands, villages, wells and roads have killed at least 140 civilians, including 19 children, in the Hodeidah and Taiz provinces since 2018.

Landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have prevented humanitarian organizations from reaching populations in need, left farms and wells inaccessible and harmed civilians trying to return home, according to the report.

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

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

HRW researchers visited the southern port city of Aden in February 2019 and interviewed civilians injured by landmines, as well as others fleeing mined areas, aid workers and a deminer from the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center.

The group found evidence that in addition to laying anti-personnel landmines, the militias have planted anti-vehicle mines in civilian areas, modified anti-vehicle mines to detonate from a person’s weight and disguised IEDs as rocks or parts of tree trunks.

It also found that the Houthis have used anti-personnel mines in Hayran, near the Saudi border, and it confirmed their use of naval mines despite the risk to commercial, fishing and aid vessels.

The militias lay mines on main roads and sub-roads, in orchards, homes and schools, Ousama al-Gosaibi, director of the Saudi project for demining in Yemen (Masam), told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Throughout our work in demining, we can tell that what Human Rights Watch has said is true,” he said, commenting on the report.

He added that casualty figures are even greater, but many of them have not yet been officially registered.

“The problem in Yemen is not only the mines planted by individuals, but also those laid by machines,” he stressed.

“Unfortunately, we found these mines in every populated place. People have become unable to take the main routes to reach their villages and mines also hindered the access of humanitarian aid,” Gosaibi noted.

He pointed out that Houthi militias are even planting mines in roads demined by Masam.

“We have opened many roads that have been closed for years by mines, and sadly there are new attempts to re-plant them,” he said, explaining that one road was re-planted by modern mines after only three days of demining it.

Since its establishment, Masam has already removed 61,398 mines planted by the militias in different parts of Yemen.

Gosaibi said the project has removed 8,621 mines since the beginning of April.

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