Yemen’s hidden menace, the decades-long struggle ahead to clear the country of landmines


The threat of mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war, known as ERWs, left behind in the fighting is the untold threat facing civilians in Yemen. 

Saudi Arabia said this week that the Houthis had laid about a million landmines and IEDs across Yemen since the war broke out in 2015. On the other side of the country Yemeni government officials said they have uncovered half-a-million ERWs, mostly left by al-Qaeda.

There is no way of independently verifying these figures, as international monitoring teams lack access. There is also an issue surrounding the definition of a mine: mine clearance crews in Yemen will regularly call everything from an IED to a mortar shell a mine.

But officials within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is supporting local projects on the ground, said problems caused by the explosive ordinances littering Yemen could take “decades” to fix.

Yemen is in the grips of a devastating three-year conflict between the Iran-backed Houthis and the recognised Yemeni government, the latter supported by a coalition headed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting which, according to the United Nations, has sparked the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in terms of numbers: some 22 million people, or three-quarters of the population, rely on aid to survive.

 

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Source: The Independent.