Sana’a, a joint press conference on the status of implementation of the Ottawa Anti-Personnel Mine Treaty.
Sana'a, a joint press conference was convened at Taj Sheba Hotel to brief the media and public on the status of implementation of the Ottawa Anti-Personnel Mine Treaty, which Yemen was among the first countries to sign and adopt.
The press conference was attended by Mrs. Rosemary Willey-Al'Sanah, UNDP Crisis prevention and recovery unit head and Mr. Qassim Al-Ajam, Head of Yemen Mine Action Committee and officials from the Yemen Mine Action Committee (YEMAC) and United Nations Development Programme.
Mr. Al-Ajam said that the Government of Republic of Yemen was among the first countries to sign the Global Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty in 1999. This was swiftly followed with establishment of National Mine Action Committee (NMAC). Later that year Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC) was created under NMAC with three interrelated objectives: 1) to clear mines; 2) provide mines risk education; and 3) support victims of explosive remnants of war. The last 14 years of dedicated work by YEMAC has resulted in saving lives of innocent peoples throughout the country, alleviating of the misery of hundreds of victims, renewed safe access to agriculture land and water resources across Yemen. With support from UNDP and its partners, YEMAC capacity was enhanced to reach global technical standards and Yemen was the first country to run a national mines action program and also contributed to the establishment of similar programs in Sudan, Iraq, Mauritania, Somalia and Mozambique.
Within 14 years YEMAC, succeeded to clear Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) from approximately 838.1km2 (85.3%) of the suspect hazardous areas surveyed in 2010 (1170.6 km2). This cleared land was released back to local authorities and communities in 18 governorates: Abyan, Aden, Al Baidha, Al Hodaidah, Al Jawf, Al Mahra, Amran, Dhamar, Hadhramaut, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahej, Mareb, Sa’adah, Sana’a, Shabwah and Taiz, Mr. Al-Ajam added. Recent challenges in the north and south of the country, especially during the military activities in Sa’adah and Abyan have resulted in increased demand for mines clearing actions. Until June 2013, more than 292,000 explosive devices of different types were safely cleared and destroyed.
Tragically, from the beginning of 2011 to date more than 71 people have been affected by mines and other types of explosive devices in areas that YEMAC had not yet starting working Mr. Al-Ajam mentioned. He also added that in Abyan alone since reclaiming of the Governorate by the Yemen Military, 8 YEMAC staff have been killed and 20 wounded as in their efforts to clean Abyan prior to the returning of more than 200,000 internal displaced persons to the homes and livelihood assets.
Mrs. Rosemary Willey-Al'Sanah, UNDP Crisis prevention and recovery unit head, mentioned that the fourth phase of the project, from 2013 to 2017, was signed earlier this year between the Government of the Republic of Yemen and UNDP, which will focus in consolidating the efforts to clear the remaining legacy lands and newly contaminated areas with mines in the Governorates of Abyan, Sa’adah and Amran. He also added that in close collaboration with UNICEF and YEMAC, Mines Risk Education (MRE) was delivered to the targeted communities, especially children, in contaminated areas and more than 1,700,000 people have benefitted from MRE, more than 50 per cent of whom are children. As a result of Mines Risks Education adults and children could recognize ERWs and report them for clearance but most importantly avoid death or injury from them.
Over the years YEMACs victims assistance teams has provided assistance to more than 2,100 victims of ERWs from 935 communities across Yemen. YEMAC ensures that victims each have a comprehensive medical examination, treatment and receive medical appliances including wheelchairs and artificial limbs.
YEMAC will continue to provide its valuable service until the last Explosive Remnants of Wars are removed and Yemeni people can move across their land in confidence and without any mines threat.
YEMAC - Yemen Executive Mine Action Center
Tel: + (967) 01 532 129