Deminers in Yemen discover two minefields in western Hodeidah province
Deminers in the western Yemeni province of Hodeidah have discovered two minefields planted by the Iran-backed Houthis after at least three people were killed by landmine explosions while stepping outside of their houses.
The Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance, or Masam, said that its deminers in Yemen have uncovered a fresh landmine field on a derelict farm in Hodeidah’s Khokha region after receiving a tip from local farmers.
Two demining crews were sent to the farm to deactivate the landmines as the Saudi project issued a stern warning to residents not to meddle with unexploded bombs or approach contaminated regions.
The government’s Joint Forces along the country’s western shore also revealed the discovery of another minefield in the Hodeidah province’s Hays district, shortly after a landmine killed three people and injured another person from the same family.
The Yemeni forces said in a statement that deminers from the Tehama Brigades found the new minefield after scouring the area where the explosion happened.
Since the Houthis began their military advance in late 2014, it is estimated that they have placed over 1 million landmines throughout Yemen.
Farms, residences, schools, ports and other territories in the Hodeidah province were blanketed with landmines mostly in 2017 and 2018, when the Houthis laid landmines en masse to thwart a major military operation by the Yemeni government.
Following the liberation of a vast tract of land in Hodeidah, the widespread and unmapped landmines have killed hundreds of people, stopped many more from traveling to their farms or places of employment and prevented others from coming home.
In response to the rising number of casualties, the Saudi program and local authorities have asked internally displaced people not to return to their homes until deminers have confirmed that they are safe.
At the same time, Osama Al-Gosaibi, Masam’s project director, said that his teams had removed 377,608 mines, unexploded ordnance, and explosive devices from a total of 41,931,252 square meters of Yemeni soil since the first day of their operations in the country in June 2018.
Meanwhile, Yemeni activists, officials and members of the public have engaged in a social media campaign to criticize the Houthis’ death sentences against 16 individuals in Sanaa and ask the international community to intervene to spare these civilians and many more jailed by the Houthis.
A lawyer in Sanaa told Arab News on Sunday that a Houthi-run court in the city had sentenced 16 individuals to death and 13 others to jail on charges of espionage for the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen and the militia’s opponents.
Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, has compared the Houthis’ repressive treatment of dissidents to that of the Iranian regime and has called the prosecution of the 29 people, all of whom hail from Saada, the Houthi movement’s heartland, “mass liquidations” of Yemenis who oppose the Houthis’ rule.
“These death judgments are a replication of the practices of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran, which continues its campaign of repression and abuse by issuing and executing death sentences against Iranian youngsters,” the Yemeni minister tweeted.
Hayel Al-Bakaly, a Yemeni journalist, accused the Houthis of making up terrorism, espionage and other charges to eliminate political opponents.
“The Houthi militia employs terrorism against its adversaries and has a list of charges prepared to condemn anybody it dislikes,” Al-Bakaly said.
Other Yemenis questioned why international rights organizations have remained silent regarding the Houthis’ persecution of civilians and violations of human rights in their prison camps.
“These organizations are complicit in the atrocities committed by the Houthis due to their repugnant silence,” Fahad Al-Khelefi, a Southern Transitional Council politician, said.