Saudi Arabia recalls heroic efforts of demining experts killed in Yemen

Saudi Arabia recalls heroic efforts of demining experts killed in Yemen
Bodies of five demining experts killed in Yemen arrived in Riyadh on Saturday night. (SPA)
Updated 03 February 2019

Saudi Arabia recalls heroic efforts of demining experts killed in Yemen

Saudi Arabia recalls heroic efforts of demining experts killed in Yemen
  • Iranian-backed Houthis ‘planted more than 1 million land mines’
  • The initial budget dedicated to the MASAM project, called “Life without land mines” is $40 million

RIYADH: The bodies of five experts who were killed clearing Houthi land mines for MASAM, the Saudi project to demine Yemen, were received at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh on Saturday night.
The experts were killed last Sunday in Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate when a vehicle carrying mines and other devices exploded en route from MASAM’s headquarters to a remote location where they were to be destroyed.
Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohammed Mohsen Askar and senior officials from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) were present at the airbase to receive the bodies.
Askar expressed the sincerest condolences of Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
“They sacrificed their lives doing a great humanitarian job to restore peace in Yemen,” he told Arab News. The bodies were accompanied to Riyadh by Yemeni officials, he said.
Dr. Abdullah Saleh Al-Moallem, director of the health and environmental aid department at KSRelief, told Arab News that the center’s MASAM project, which began in June 2018, is “a humanitarian and noble program” aimed at restoring “peace and complete legitimacy in Yemen.”
He said: “We’re very sad to receive the bodies of our five experts, who were subjected to an accidental explosion during their noble work … Houthi militias are responsible. They’ve planted more than 1 million land mines in Yemen.”
He added: “While Saudi Arabia is working to ensure peace in Yemen by trying its best to provide life and dignity to the Yemeni people, the Houthis are trying to kill people, which exposes the inhumane side of the militias destroying peace.”
KSRelief is working on many fronts in Yemen, providing medical and other humanitarian assistance including food, fuel and other essentials, Al-Moallem said.
The experts killed included two South Africans, one Croatian, one Bosnian and one Kosovan. Officials from these countries’ embassies in Riyadh were present to receive the bodies.
The project is part of a series of efforts by Saudi Arabia, represented by KSRelief, and its global and effective stance toward humanitarian work.
The initial budget dedicated to the MASAM project, called “Life without land mines” is $40 million.
There have been more than 1 million mines planted in liberated areas by militias, 130,000 internationally banned sea mines, 40,000 mines in Ma'rib and 16,000 mines on the island of Mayon.
The conflict has resulted in the manufacture and deployment of land mines by militias causing more than 1,539 deaths, injury to more than 3,000 and permanent disability to more than 900 Yemenis.
These recorded figures are far lower than the actual numbers as the national demining program has not been able to identify and register all casualties. Such hostile actions have also resulted in an array of other life-threatening crises and security concerns.