By: Saly Al-Jawhi
Past wartime practices of planting landmines in Yemen have been resumed in recent times, with their combined presence in Yemeni soil presenting a great danger to citizens.
The seemingly random scattering of landmines and various explosive devices have led to more than five thousand Yemeni victims. Most landmines contain TNT, a very explosive substance. If not killed on the spot, people are left severely injured, with most victims left as amputees. The severity of injuries depends on the size and type of the landmine encountered.
A young girl named Samar was forced to have her leg amputated after a landmine exploded while she was playing. After being subjected to such a horrible ordeal, Samar said she wished all landmines could be removed.
“It’s painful to be disabled, and I truly don’t want anyone from my family or others to experience it,” she said.
Mohammed, another victim, is a technical demining expert and was himself forced to have a leg and some of his fingers amputated, and had his face left deformed after a landmine exploded as he checked a location where landmines had been re-laid after the area had been initially cleared of them.
“It seems there were people who laid mines again after that piece of land was cleared,” he said.
According to him, double checking procedures are carried out before any area is announced to be clear of landmines.
Land mines can be encountered in 0.2% of Yemen’s total land area. Despite the presence of experts and dogs trained to locate mines, additional tools and equipment are desperately needed. Meanwhile, the landmines continue to take lives and negatively affect people’s lives.
Reports indicate that many years ago, mines were indiscriminately planted in populated areas and especially where border lines divided north and south Yemen, in Ibb city, as well as in Sa’ada and Abyan.
Ali Fare’a, Vice President of the Executive Center for Demining, said the first phase of planting landmines happened in 1962 through 1969; the second phase, from 1970 through 1980; and the third phase came during the 1994 war.
“The number cannot be set as the planting of the landmines wasn’t official, and the mines were randomly planted,” said Fare’a.