Five Yemenis die every month as a result of land mines, report says [Archives:2007/1108/Front Page]

December 3 2007

Hamed Thabet
SANA'A, Dec. 2 ) An international report complained about a data clash between the number of victims and survivals from mines and explosives left behind from wars in Yemen. The ninth report concluded from the recording sector and land survey for mines that in 2000 there was a total of 4,904 victims because of mines and explosives: 2,560 dead and 2,344 injured.

“The new international report for the assembly in charge of watching over and taking care of mines and explosives, gave its appreciation to authorities in charge of removing mines, and Yemen's commitment to clearing and dismantling hidden mines. These are the remains of the 1962-1975 war between the Royalists and Republicans, the Sept. 26th revolution against British Occupation in 1963-1967, a war known as the Armed National Battlefront from 1970-1983, and finally the Summer War in 1994.” The report noted.

The report recommended that Yemen commit to dismantling the mines by applying the fourth item, 'the Mine Ban Treaty' on the destruction of its stockpile of stored mines in Yemen, which amount to 74,000, recommending that Yemen destroy them by the end of March 2009.

The Center's concern is about not getting support in order to do its job properly. Removal equipment isn't useful and needs to be replaced by newer equipment to make swift progress. The Yemeni Center is struggling and asking for an extension on the time period for this operation, as it claims there are many mines in many different locations that cannot be removed with available equipment. The report pointed out that mine victims have doubled in the past three years.

The report explained, “Yemen could reach the deadline for the agreement on the grounds that a new strategy will be implemented in 2007.

The UNDP in Yemen, in its report about mines said, “Currently the government of Yemen lacks adequate national resources to effectively address and manage both man-made and natural crises.”

Also from this standpoint, the UNDP assists Yemen in clearing mines from the most affected areas and rehabilitating lands so they can be made available to communities for productive use, thereby boosting economic growth and reducing rural poverty.

Furthermore, the UNDP aims to develop the capacity of concerned authorities and institutions in the area of disasters, for disaster management and contingency planning, establishing the necessary conditions to prevent and limit the impact of disasters.

The study showed that clearing roads of land mines created easy access to lands and many villages that were full of mines. But the problem is that people in these areas do not trust that their lands are free of mines. It added that special authorities should convince residents that their lands are usable and safe to live in, and there is no need to be scared.

The report pointed out that a mine survey, conducted in Yemen in 2000 as the first step in planning a mine removal strategy, estimated that mine-laden areas in Yemen are about 923 square kilometers.

Moreover, in July 2007 there were still 419 square kilometers of land in need of clearing, including 8 urban communities which are affected and also 274 rural communities which really need to be cleaned out.

A program conducted by the Anti-Mine Center from 1997 to Dec. 2001 educated 410 people about the risks and dangers of mines.

In 2007 the average for mine incidents improved greatly. Still, there are 4 to 6 victims every month (48-62 annually). It is estimated that five Yemenis die every month as a result of land mines.

From 2000 to June 2007, the number of mine fatalities was 122, including 53 men, 14 women, 27 boys, 21 girls and 7 mine clearing workers.

Yemen signed the Mine Ban Treaty on Dec. 4th, 1997 and countersigned it on Sept. 1st, 1998. The treaty was implemented in March 1999.

Moreover, Yemen participated in the seventh meeting of the States Parties in Geneva in September 2006, where statements were issued about problems of mine clearance and victim assistance. Yemen also attended meetings of the Standing Committees in Geneva in May 2006 and April 2007. In April, Yemen provided lectures about mine clearance and victim assistance and new stockpiles which were discovered.