Friday , March 23 2018

UAE clears 20,000 landmines in eight months across Yemen

Mocha / WAM

The Iranian-backed Houthi militias’ use of banned anti-personnel landmines in Yemen has triggered thousands of civilian casualties, wanton violence and bloodshed, a three-month field investigation by the Emirates News Agency, (WAM), revealed.
The Houthi forces have used landmines since the pro-legitimacy Saudi-led Arab coalition started its military operations to liberate the country from the coup perpetrators, killing, injuring and maiming thousands of civilians, including children, women and the elderly – disrupting civilian life in affected areas.
Investigations conducted by WAM showed in no uncertain way the Houthis are ceaselessly embedding explosive mines that will continue to pose a threat to civilians even after the conflict ends.
While comprehensive landmine casualty figures are not available, health professionals and local activists who spoke to WAM provided lists of people wounded by landmines in several governorates.
WAM, across a period of three months, accompanied specialist UAE de-mining teams working within the UAE Armed Forces, and interviewed a number of Yemeni families on the country’s Red Sea Coast, who were “stabbed in the back” by the Iranian-backed militias and had their own siblings mutilated, killed and injured by the landmines treacherously implanted in their own vicinities.
“The de-mining squads have cleared more than 20,000 mines and explosives over the past eight months across different parts of the Red Sea Coast,” a de-mining expert told WAM.
Up to 65 Yemeni volunteers have been trained by the UAE Armed Forces to de-mine the suspected areas, he added.

The expert noted that 90 percent of the explosives are Iranian-made and patterned after the Russian TM-57 mine, in addition to other types of explosives similar to ‘Keller’.
“The mines are being detonated in safe areas as per the latest international standards,” he added.
“The Houthis are planting these explosives randomly and in areas adjacent to populated districts, regardless of any human considerations, in order to ensure killing the largest possible number of civilians, including youngsters, children, women and seniors from several Yemeni families, most of whom had their limbs amputated as a result.”
These mines take different shapes, including rocks in mountainous areas, or dunes, which are mostly Iranian-made in addition to anti-tank and anti- personnel mines and booby-traps that are maliciously planted, not to mention the naval explosives.
The Emirates Red Crescent, the UAE’s main humanitarian arm, is sparing no effort to ease the suffering of the Yemeni people by bearing the treatment costs of these victims, Juma Abdullah Al Mazroui, Head of the ERC Team in Aden said.
Up to 4,000 wounded Yemenis have been treated in the UAE, Jordan, Sudan and India, some of whom have already recovered and returned home, while the rest are still being treated,” he remarked.
“The military field hospital staged by the UAE received up to 2,500 mine-injured persons in four months, some of whom are critically wounded,” Mohamed Abdullah, the head of the hospital’s medical team, told WAM.

“These are all stabs in our back,” said Dr. Ishraq Al Siba’i, Unders-Secretary of the Yemeni Health Ministry, in her description of the mines planted by the Houthi militias, which she said triggered off a humanitarian crisis that left more than 10,000 handicapped only across Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

Saleh Abdu, a father to six children, is one of a multitude of Yemenis who fell victim to the anti-personnel mines planted by the Houthis and spoke to WAM about his untold suffering following the traumatic experience. “The Houthis planted booby-traps in front of our houses in a way that was impossible for the families to take any precaution of preemptive measures. These left a large number of our villagers dead, and handicapped,” Abdu, who lost his two legs to an anti-personnel mine, said. “I lost consciousness after the explosive went off. And later I came to know that people around me carried me to Mocha Hospital and later to the military field hospital run by the UAE Armed Forces where my two legs have been amputated as a result.”

“Despite our daily suffering at the hands of these malicious militants, the determination of loyal Yemeni people will never ebb and we will continue standing up to the diabolic Iranian machinations,” he added.

“The Houthi militias plundered all our belongings and possessions, leaving behind nothing but mines and explosives” said Yahia, a ten-year-old child. “The Houthis besieged our neighbourhood for a long time and the mines planted by them were a nightmare for all of us. A nightmare which decreased in intensity a bit after the liberation of our areas at the hands of the Arab Coalition Forces. The Emirati forces helped us survive the hard circumstances we are going through by providing us with aid and helping us de-mine our neighbourhoods,” he added.

“We were expelled from our homes by Houthis,” Samira Mahmoud, a mother of two, tearfully told WAM, after having her two kids killed and her right hand amputated following an explosion that left her house in debris.

The death booby-traps planted by Houthis have taken their toll on the elderly as well. “I was sitting in front of my house waiting for my grandchildren to come and take me for lunch, only to hear a massive explosion inside the house, turning the innocent kids to dead bodies in seconds,” said 78-year-old, teary-eyed Saleh.

“And before my son went to rescue the rest of the family, another explosion went off, leaving all my sons, their wives and children dead simultaneously in a tragedy that words run short of describing.”

More victims spoke to WAM about their tragedies, including incidents where the victims and their families did not see anything except the dust flying over their heads and their limbs blown apart.

“We didn’t lose consciousness. We were asking those around us, ‘What happened? What happened?’ They already saw that our legs were gone completely, but they didn’t say anything, they didn’t want to tell us,” a number of victims told WAM.

Khalil Yassin Ahmed, a 10-year-old Yemeni child, was yet another victim of the Houthis.

He was playing with his friends from in the Al Ruweis Village in Mocha when he heard a blast and felt shrapnel penetrate different parts of his body, including his stomach. He was rushed to the military field hospital where he underwent a two-hour surgery that saved his life before he was airlifted to UAE to continue his recovery.

People in Hayes said the UAE aid is a life saver for Yemenis under the untold suffering they are enduring.

Speaking to WAM, Marawan Khalid and Khalid Abdul Al Hafeez, from Hayes said that the UAE forces have not only liberated their land but also efficiently contributed to bringing life bit back to normalcy in their neighbourhood.

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