29 September 2015

Landmine Use By Houthis In Yemen C HRW 599X350

PPM-2 antipersonnel mines manufactured by East Germany in 1982 and cleared from Aden in July-August 2015. © 2015 Human Rights Watch

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is deeply concerned with ongoing reports of use of antipersonnel mines by Houthi forces in several parts of Yemen. The ICBL strongly condemns the use of these indiscriminate weapons, which have already claimed lives in Yemen, as reported by the media and by Yemeni mine clearance officials. On 25 September, Médecins sans frontières reported that most landmine and ERW casualties since August have been children.

Early this month, Human Rights Watch reported that Houthi forces – also known as Ansar Allah – may have laid landmines in July 2015 in Aden, as well as in Abyan governorate, killing at least 11 people and wounding over 12, including two deminers.

Like another 161 nations, Yemen is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty which prohibits use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines and requires States Parties to assist victims and clear contaminated areas. By joining this international humanitarian disarmament treaty, Yemen undertook to never use antipersonnel mines, and to prevent such use.

“It is tragic to learn of the innocent civilians who are being killed and injured due to the recent use of landmines in Yemen, a country that has joined the global ban on antipersonnel landmines,” said Megan Burke, Director of the ICBL. “The people of Yemen have already suffered enough; the long term impact of these landmines will only serve to exacerbate the consequences of the current conflict for years to come.”

This is not the first time landmines are used in Yemen. They were reportedly used in 2011 and 2012, including by governmental forces during the 2011 popular uprising. Several reports and allegations of antipersonnel mine use by non-state armed groups repeatedly arose, including in 2013. Yemen has since declared having completed the destruction of its stockpile, in accordance with its Mine Ban Treaty obligations.

By the end of 2013, the total of known casualties from mines and ERW in Yemen amounted to as many as 5,840, including 55 casualties in 2013. Of these 55 casualties in 2013, 49 were civilians, including 40 children, and six were deminers.