Spotlight: Randomly-planted landmines pose lingering threat to Yemenis' lives

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-05 03:20:45|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Murad Abdo

ADEN, Yemen, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Hassan Khadem, a Yemeni civilian living in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, and his wife had never thought the early morning on Thursday would be the last morning of their life as they were walking on a sub-road near their home.

What killed them outright was the sudden explosion of a landmine randomly planted on the sub-road. A third civilian also died in the blast, a government official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"A landmine exploded on a sub-road in the Jubailah area in Tuhyata district in the south of Hodeidah, killing three civilians," the official said.

Also on Thursday, residents in Yemen's northern province of al-Jawf told Xinhua that a citizen named Mohammed Farhan was seriously injured in a landmine explosion in Khab-Shaaf district in the northeast of the province.

The two incidents are just part of the almost daily landmine explosions in Yemen, which have caused the deaths of many innocent people in various parts of the war-torn Arab country.

Large swathes of Yemen have been swamped by randomly-planted landmines, which are posing a lingering threat to the lives of citizens across the war-torn country.

According to the United Nations, thousands of landmines, unexploded ordnance and other explosive war remnants have been left behind during the ongoing conflict in Yemen which has just entered its fifth year.

The impoverished Arab country has been locked into a civil war since the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces, including the capital Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia, which has been leading an anti-Houthi military coalition since early 2015, launched a project to dismantle mines in Yemen in June 2018, which has since removed more than 50,000 mines in the country, including over 5,000 in February and another 6,000 in March.

As part of a 40-million-U.S.-dollar initiative launched by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), the Saudi project aims to remove mines left behind by Houthi militias and equip the Yemeni specialists on the ground with the skills and resources necessary to clear landmines.

With material and technical support from Iran, the Houthis have scattered as many as 1 million land and sea mines across Yemen, killing at least 1,539 and injuring more than 3,000 others, according to Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of KSrelief.

"Yemen is facing a real disaster because of the continuous planting of landmines randomly in various areas of the country," said Adel Thamer, a civil rights activist.

Landmines and explosives of various kinds and sizes are considered a deadly long-standing threat to the lives of millions of Yemenis and have actually killed and injured hundreds of them, he told Xinhua.

Thamer, who also works as a coordinator of the Child Protection Program, revealed that the program has launched a campaign aimed to raise public awareness of mines' risks in an effort to reduce further casualties.