Terrorism

Houthi-planted mines target Yemeni families in al-Dhale

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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A member of Yemeni pro-government forces searches for landmines in the third-largest city Taez in south-western Yemen, on November 6th. [Ahmad al-Basha/AFP]

Thousands of landmines and unexploded ordnance left behind by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) in areas they have lost to pro-government forces still claim the lives of innocent Yemenis every month.

Though international law prohibits the use of anti-personnel mines, the Houthis have continued to manufacture and plant these lethal weapons in Yemen, with support from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), officials and experts said.

On December 11th, a child and a woman were killed when two landmines planted by the Houthis exploded in the Bilad al-Haiqi area of al-Husha district, western al-Dhale province.

Wasila Abdul Karim Mohammed al-Amri, 12, was instantly killed in a landmine explosion while herding sheep.

Another landmine exploded when two families were passing through the area in search of a place to stay after they were displaced from their homes. One woman was instantly killed and the seven other members of the two families sustained varying levels of injuries, some of them critically.

According to governmental reports, the Houthis have planted approximately 1.2 million anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines across 15 Yemeni provinces.

Landmines pose continued threat

The Houthis have "sown death in the areas from which they withdrew" as they are trying to retaliate against the residents for the military defeats they have suffered, said Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez.

The militia has littered farmlands, roads and residential areas with landmines and IEDs camouflaged as natural objects, without drawing maps of their location, he said.

These mines are killing civilians and even livestock, despite the fact that UN conventions have banned the use of anti-personnel landmines, he told Al-Mashareq.

Landmines threaten the lives of innocent civilians in al-Dhale, Taiz, al-Hodeidah and other provinces that have come under Houthi control or witnessed armed clashes, Abdul Hafeez said.

He blamed Iran for supplying the Houthis with landmines and training them on their manufacture, including camouflaged mines, thus posing an increased threat on the lives of civilians, including women and children, he said.

The Yemen National Programme for Landmines Clearance said it has "documented more than 6,000 victims, including women and children, who were killed or wounded by Houthi landmines", political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

The Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance in Yemen (MASAM) has removed more than 100,000 landmines planted by the Houthis since July 2018, he said, with 55 national de-mining workers killed in the process and five injured.

Nineteen MASAM workers were also killed, including five experts, while removing landmines.

"The Houthi militia is a violent armed group that answers to a sectarian authority," human rights activist Abdul Rahman Barman told Al-Mashareq.

They have sown death by "planting landmines, shelling, laying siege, setting fire to humanitarian aid, preventing children from being vaccinated, and preventing international organisations from delivering medicine and aid to the Yemeni people", he said.

The militia does not care if thousands of civilians are killed "as long as its objectives are being achieved", Barman said.

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