AL-MUKALLA: Landmine explosions killed 12 civilians and injured nine others last month in Yemen’s western province of Hodeidah, UN monitors have said.
The UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement reported that six children and a woman were among the dead and five children were among those injured. The toll was a 30 percent increase from the same month last year but a 9 percent decrease from this January.
The deaths happened in Hodeidah, including Al-Garahi, Addurahimi, Bayt Al-Faqih, Attuhayta, and Hays.
Since 2017, the Houthis have laid tens of thousands of mines in the Red Sea province to thwart attacks by government troops. Hundreds of Yemeni civilians have been killed and injured in the minefields over the previous six years.
Deminers with the Saudi-funded Project Masam — a Yemeni demining project — reported 31 civilian fatalities and injuries in Hodeidah province in February.
Sami Hemaid, head of Masam’s demining teams in Hodeidah, told Arab News on Thursday that at least 30 civilians were killed or wounded in February and that more than 80 percent of civilian deaths in Hodeidah were recorded in areas controlled by the Houthis, indicating Houthi landmine planting and a lack of demining efforts in those areas.
Thanks to the Masam program, Hemaid said, just two deadly landmine explosions had been documented in government-controlled areas since early this year, compared to scores of in Houthi-controlled areas.
“Tens of thousands of landmines that the Houthis buried in various parts of Hodeidah have been retrieved by our teams. Due to these efforts, relatively few occurrences of landmine-related fatalities have been documented,” said Hemaid, a native of a Hodeidah area under Houthi control.
The Houthis had refused locals’ repeated requests to clear the mines, he added. “Farmers there pay Houthi supervisors to get landmines removed from their property.”
Masam has cleared 390,586 landmines, anti-tank mines, IEDs, and unexploded ordnances from about 45,100,000 square meters of Yemeni soil since its activities began in mid-2018.
At the same time, the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center said on Thursday that floods in the central province of Marib had revealed Houthi-planted landmines, warning locals not to meddle with them and to contact demining troops if they notice any.
Saleh A-Shadadi, a resident of the district of Raghwan in the province of Marib, told Arab News that following recent flooding in the region, hundreds of landmines had appeared in fields and lands, and deminers are now trying to remove them.
“Fear of mines caused the majority of farmers to quit their farms. Agricultural equipment owners refused to operate on agricultural lands for the same reason,” A-Shadadi said.