Panel discussion on Houthi use of land mines in Yemen
GENEVA, June 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On the sidelines of the 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Dr. Wesam Basindowah's Yemen Coalition of Independent Women, with co-organizer The Washington Outsider, whose Editor-in-Chief Irina Tsukerman participated in the seminar, and along with other international human rights organizations, revealed the humanitarian disaster in Yemen unleashed by the widespread use of land mines by the Iran-backed Houthis.
Irina Tsukerman started the discussion by explaining that the Houthis are considered some of the most prolific offensive land mine users in the world, having planted between a million and a half and over 2 million land mines all over the country from the Northern provinces to the borders with Saudi Arabia since the civil broke out with the start of the Houthi uprising in 2014. As other participants also noted, many of these land mines are illegal anti-personnel land mines planted in civilian areas, disguised as rocks, toys, or other civilian objects which maximizes the number of civilian casualties in violation of international laws, and complicates the demining process.
Tsukerman had interviewed demining experts from MASAM, a civilian project with Saudi Arabia's King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, which had removed hundreds of thousands of mines since 2018. From the start of the war, KSA has contributed approximately $20 billion to humanitarian aid in Yemen.
Tsukerman explained that Houthis fought numerous wars with Yemen's government before the current civil war and grew in sophistication thanks to training from Iran's and Hezbullah's military advisers. Iran, Tsukerman asserted, views Yemen as a gateway to Saudi Arabia; controlling the Two Holy Mosques is at the epicenter of the Islamic Republic's goal to export the Islamic Revolution, becoming the only recognized religious authority. The land mines would help clear the way.
The land mines progressed from old Soviet mines and locally made simple IEDs to sophisticated technology imported from Iran or developed on the ground, similar to ordnances recovered after use by Iran's proxies in Iraq, Bahrain, and Lebanon. Since the start of the current war over 9000 Yemenis were reported killed from IED blasts with hundreds injured each year. Even if the war comes to an end, due to lack of cooperation from the Houthis in mapping the land mine sites, the humanitarian disaster may persist for decades, Tsukerman added.
The panel recommended sanctioning Houthis, increasing international demining cooperation, building more hospitals and artificial limb centers in remote areas, providing psychological care and rehabilitation for victims, especially for children, providing safety training for volunteers, disrupting Iran's efforts in providing land mine materials, providing safe passage and humanitarian assistance to communities where facilities have become inaccessible, and increasing coordination among demining groups.
Media Contact: Irina Tsukerman
Image 1: Panel discussion on Houthi use of land mines in Yemen
Yemen Coalition of Independent Women, The Washington Outsider seminar in Geneva on the sidles of the 50th session of UNHRC.
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