Yemen: 4 April, 2021 - As Yemen enters its seventh year of conflict, and despite the continuous and notable efforts of the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) across the country, mine contamination continues to increase, posing a significant threat to the security and safety of all Yemenis.
Littered across the country, mine and unexploded ordnance contamination is a major risk of death and injury to civilians as 348 people perished in 2020. Shadowed under an ever-present fear that degrades community social structures, contamination also destroys livelihoods and has a significant negative impact on the wider economy.
Perseverance is a key component of UNDP’s national Mine Action Project and its partners to mitigate the long-term, disproportionate, impact of mines in Yemen. Together, we continue to build national capacity for removing threats posed by mines and unexploded remnants of war. UNDP works with YEMAC all of Yemen, whose overarching objective is to achieve national reach while continuing to develop and expand its capacity, despite the conflict.
“Ongoing cooperation between UNDP and YEMAC has resulted in the restoration of thousands of livelihoods, strengthened local demining capacity – including the certification of Yemen’s first woman deminer – and assisted Yemen with the implementation of key mine action convention obligations,” explains Auke Lootsma, UNDP Yemen Resident Representative.
In partnership with our national counterparts, UNDP has supported Yemen’s mine action operations since the late 1990s – primarily through institutional and technical support, capacity development, resource mobilisation, and equipment procurement. And to help ensure their work is compliant with the International Mine Action Standards and to fulfil obligations toward the Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Convention), YEMAC partners with national and international organizations to continue to develop their capacity.
In 2020, this included the HALO Trust, Danish Demining Group, Norwegian People’s Aid, and the commercial company, The Development Initiative, to support YEMAC with Non-Technical Survey and Explosive Ordnance Risk Education activities and the building of a Mine Detection Dog Unit, among other activities.
Progress has been steady in removing Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) throughout Yemen. In 2020, YEMAC surveyed and/or cleared over 3.1 million square meters of land – removing over 64,000 ERW in 17 governorates. This allows over 177,000 Yemenis the safety and security to farm and enjoy greater mobility to access basic service, work, leisure, and education.
A key partner in the work to reduce the threat of unexploded ordnance in the governorate of Hudaydah is the United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA). In cooperation with UNMAS, UNMHA provides technical support to oversee the removal of minefields and ERW in the three vital Red Sea ports of Hudaydah, Salif, and Ras Issa, which import 80 per cent of the humanitarian goods entering the country.
“Nowhere is the nexus between the threat of land mines and unexploded ordnance and the commercial and humanitarian sector more evident than the minefields that loom over the Hudaydah Governorate,” UNMHA Deputy Head of Mission Daniela Kroslak says. “With our UNDP partners, we are committed to supporting Yemen’s demining experts to create safe pathways for the delivery of essential commercial goods and humanitarian aid to a population in need,” she added.
“To ensure we are able to continue to better support the sector and our partners, UNDP has established several Mine Action offices throughout Yemen,” says Lootsma. “With the support of our donors, we continue to focus upon four areas. These include completing the development of the National Mine Action Standards; expanding the mine action INGO presence; supporting YEMAC to achieve the International Mine Action Standards; and developing activities to stop the spread of Improvised Explosive Devices and the threat posed by sea mines.”
“Together, UNDP and UNMHA – in partnership with YEMAC – can make Yemen a safer, more resilient nation,” noted Lootsma.