Human Rights Watch: Houthi-Saleh militias Use Improvised Antipersonnel Mines

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In April 2017, Human Rights Watch said, that the Houthi-Saleh militias use of banned antipersonnel landmines in Yemen has caused numerous civilian casualties and hindered the safe return of civilians displaced by fighting. The organization warned that, the Houthi-Saleh should immediately cease using these weapons and observe the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which Yemen ratified in 1998.

 

Houthi-Saleh militias have used landmine,  since the Saudi Arabia-led coalition began military operations in support of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in March 2015. Mines appear to have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and disrupted civilian life in affected areas. Landmines continue to pose a threat to civilians long after a conflict ends.

 

“Houthi-Saleh militias have been flouting the landmine ban at the expense of Yemeni civilians,” Steve Goose, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, said. “Yemen prohibited antipersonnel mines nearly two decades ago and no authorities should tolerate their use.”

 

Human Rights Watch researchers visited the southern port city of Aden in early 2017, and interviewed and collected data from mine clearance experts, local security officials, landmine victims, and activists, and interviewed victims and activists in other governorates by phone. Human Rights Watch investigated 10 incidents where landmines laid by Houthi-Saleh militias in Sanaa, Marib, Aden, and Taizz governorates exploded, killing two people and wounding eight.

While comprehensive landmine casualty figures are not available, health professionals and local activists provided lists of people wounded by landmines in several governorates. The Center for Prosthetic Limbs and Physiotherapy in Aden provided the names and ages of 24 people who had recently lost limbs to landmines. Against Mines National Organization reported that landmines killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 39 in two districts of Taizz governorate between May 2015 and April 2016. And the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) documented cases in which more than 80 people were killed and 136 wounded by landmines in Marib and al-Jawf governorates since the conflict began.

 

The Landmine Monitor initiative by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines reported that at least 988 people were killed or wounded by landmines or other explosive remnants of war in Yemen in 2015.

 

Human Rights Watch previously documented Houthi-Saleh militias use of antipersonnel mines in Aden, Abyan, Marib, Lahj, and Taizz governorates in 2015 and 2016, as well as their indiscriminate use of antivehicle mines.

Houthi-Saleh militias have also made and used improvised antipersonnel mines, Human Rights Watch said. In Yemen, ant vehicle mines or other explosives are sometimes triggered by an individual using a pedal a few meters away. In February 2017, the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) found and cleared improvised mines on civilian roads near the port city of Mokha in Taizz governorate, from which Houthi-Saleh militias had recently withdrawn.

 

The Houthi-Saleh militias use of antipersonnel landmines violate the laws of war and individuals involved are committing war crimes, Human Rights Watch said. Houthi-Saleh militias have also used antivehicle mines indiscriminately in violation of the laws of war and failed to take adequate precautions to avoid civilian casualties.

 

International assistance is urgently needed to equip, train, and assist clearance personnel to systematically survey, clear, and destroy Yemen’s mines and explosive remnants of war, Human Rights Watch said. International donors should also urgently assist victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war in Yemen. Appropriate compensation, assistance, and support should be provided to those wounded by mines, or to the families of those killed. Assistance should include medical care, prosthetic, and ongoing rehabilitation.

 

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