Mines, the hidden death [Archives:2003/669/Last Page]

September 18 2003
Photo from archived article: photos/669/lastpage1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/669/lastpage1_1
Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Stories of mines buried in most of the Yemeni regions are ones that carry a great deal of misery and pain. Everyday lives are taken out because of these hidden traps, buried mines that leave human and animal bodies lifeless or at least handicapped and disfigured.
This is not just a Yemeni domestic problem, in fact it is an international crisis and it is estimated that there are more than 155 million land mines in more than 60 countries around the world, including Yemen.
In spite of massive campaigns for clearing land mines, there are around 262 various types of anti-personnel mines still being manufactured in 55 different countries.
The irony of this is that it is the developing countries mostly in which these mines are present. And due to weak economies and scarce resources those countries can hardly work on eliminating the dangers in their lands, they can hardly attend to the basic needs of their peoples, let alone spending on clearing mines.
For the past two years Yemen has been strongly suffering this threat, and although the Yemeni economy is quite fragile yet it has been successful in getting rid of some of these deadly mines. The total number of victims of explosives and mines in Yemen has reached around 5075 individuals in the last few years. Statistics show that all Yemeni governorates suffer from this problem except for Mahweet, which is mine-free. The geographic survey showed that the area of land planted with mines in Yemen totals 922 square km out of which 44 square km highly sensitive.
Ibb and al-Dhalie are of the most affected areas where mines and explosives are spread in large quantities; even farming land is not mine-free. The reason why this is so is due to the pre-unity acts of sabotage used to take place there. For those areas were of the most affected by conflict. In these places there are victims everyday, where people suffer from horrid accidents because of the mines, especially those of the plastic type which are difficult to detect.
Yemeni efforts in cooperation with concerned countries and organizations have been able eliminate a significant number of live mines. And since 1998 Yemen has started taking real steps for clearing mines. So far 66 thousand mines have been removed, all these mines buried over an area of 4.5 million square meters. The National Committee for demining announced that the number of land mines that had been planted in Yemen during the war and conflict times since 1994 has reached 12 million bombs and mine.
Yemeni efforts alone could have not made it if it was not for the Saudi support, where Yemen has received one million US dollar in September 2002, this being the second installment of the Saudi aid for Yemen in its efforts to remove mines. The total Saudi aid of the two installations amounted to 3 million USD. USA, Japan and the UN also supported Yemen in many ways in its war against mines. Warning signs in dangerous areas have been installed but they do not seem enough, especially when talking about children who are actually the largest group endangered by mines.
Inclusive awareness campaigns must be conducted through all media instruments. Meanwhile, all efforts should combine for solving this critical problem. Media role is absent in this fight, so is there anything the media could do about this? The number of mine-explosion victims is on the increase particularly among children.