Landmine Impact Survey in the Republic of Yemen
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years the government of Yemen has recognized the urgent need to
address the landmine contamination issue caused by various
conflicts. As a result, the United Nations Mine Action Service
(UNMAS) requested the Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA) to
conduct a Landmine Impact Survey in Yemen. The survey provided
them with the most comprehensive set of mine related
socio-economic impact data for clearing their lands.
by Qadeem Khan Tariq, Mine
Clearance Planning Agency
The Republic of Yemen
is located in the Middle East, bordering Saudi Arabia to the north, Oman
to the northeast, the Gulf of Aden to the south and the Red Sea to the
west with an area of 550,000 square kilometers and a population of
approximately 15 million. The country is divided into 19 administrative
units, called governorates.
Landmines in Yemen were laid as a
result of several separate conflicts over a period of about 30 years,
starting during the 1962—1975 conflicts between the Republicans and
Royalists in the north. In addition, landmines were laid during the 1963—1967
war of independence in the south and during the leftist guerrilla war in
the central governorates during 1970—1983. A large number of landmines
were also laid in six governorates in southern Yemen during the 1994 war
Anti-tank mines collected by MCPA; security
personnel in Al-Mahra governorate, Yemen.
The government of
Yemen recognizes the urgent need to address the landmine contamination
issue and is strongly committed to both national and worldwide efforts
to ban the use of landmines. Yemen is the first country in the Middle
East to have signed and ratified the "Convention on the Prohibition
of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines
and on their Destruction," known as the Ottawa Treaty on landmines.
As a requirement of the Ottawa Treaty, Yemen has destroyed about 10
percent of its stockpiled landmines and is committed to completing their
destruction in the coming years. The government has established the
National Demining Committee (NDC) to oversee all mine action policies in
the country and the National Technical Executive Unit (NTEU) to help
implement mine action projects. The government of the United States has
provided Yemen with extensive technical and material support, allowing
for the establishment of three demining companies or nine mine clearance
teams involving about 300 personnel.
Two adjacent mined areas on the peak of a
mountain blocking access to drinking irrigation water in Ibb
There have been extensive efforts
since 1998 by the government of Yemen with assistance from the
government of the United States to address the landmine problem.
However, in order to have an overall picture of the landmine problem in
Yemen and obtain the necessary information required for an effective
national mine action plan, the government of Yemen, the United Nations
and the donor community conducted a Landmine Impact Survey in the
Republic of Yemen from July 1999 to July 2000.
The United Nations
Mine Action Service (UNMAS), on behalf of the Yemen NDC, requested the
Landmine Impact Survey in Yemen. The Survey Action Center (SAC)
implemented the Survey in conjunction with the Afghanistan-based Mine
Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA), in accordance with the guidelines and
protocols set forth by the Survey Working Group (SWG). Funding for the
Survey was provided by the governments of Canada, the United States,
Germany and Japan, and included partial matching by the United Nations
Foundation. The Survey was made possible through a contracting mechanism
and with the support of in-country UN staff provided by the United
Nations Office for Project Services. Conducting the Survey in Yemen cost
a total of $1,650,000 (U.S.). Of this amount, $450,000 consisted of
non-expendable equipment such as vehicles transferred to the NDC as part
of a plan to expand national mine action capacity.
A Field Supervisor is seen coordinating survey
activities with local authorities in Ibb governorate, Yemen.
The Landmine Impact Survey conducted
in the Republic of Yemen conclusively identified 592 mine-impacted
communities and 1078 contaminated areas, covering at least 95 percent of
the suspected mine-impacted communities in the country with a high
degree of confidence. While the data collected during this effort
affords extensive opportunities for research and analysis, four key
points are most salient:
1. Water is critical to the health
and well being of Yemeni communities, and when mines block access to
water, the negative impacts upon local communities can be profound.
Special attention should be given to those communities where water
access is blocked.
2. Impacts are clustered in groups
of communities, creating broad swaths of contamination and suggesting
that well-targeted mine action programs can quickly reach a large
number of affected communities.
3. Community size does not matter
much in the final scoring analysis, and small communities should not
4. Accident profiles indicate that
mine awareness education programs should target persons engaged in
livestock grazing (particularly women) and risk-taking behaviors
(especially teenage boys and young men).
The 592 impacted
communities indicated by the Survey are distributed in 18 governorates,
primarily in the southern and central portions of Yemen. There are an
estimated 828,000 Yemeni civilians, roughly 6 percent of the total
population, living in these communities. This means that at least one in
every 16 Yemeni lives by, works near or is otherwise affected by the
presence of landmines. 1,078 distinct mined areas were located with a
total reported surface area of 923 million square meters.
Proximity Verification of a mined area in Hajja
Results indicated a tendency for the
mine-affected communities to be grouped together into "
clusters" of contamination. Two large clusters dominate the
dispersal pattern of affected communities, concentrating the adverse
impacts of landmines in an area straddling six governorates.
Additionally, there are several smaller clusters as well as a residual
set of communities dispersed across the country.
A scoring mechanism ranks communities
in terms of the degree of mine impact. Indicators considered include the
number of victims within the last 24 months, blocked access to
facilities or livelihood areas and the type of contamination. This
system ranked 14 communities as highly impacted, 84 as moderately
impacted and 494 as lightly impacted. The most significant difference
between a "high impact" and a "moderate impact"
community is the reporting of mine incidents within the last two years.
There are 36,472 people living in highly impacted communities, 178,763
in moderately impacted communities and 612,559 in lightly impacted
The Survey collected extensive
information regarding the types of livelihood activities and
institutions that are denied to local population through the presence of
landmines and UXO. The most frequently reported impact of mines was
blocked grazing land, with 89 percent of all communities reporting this
loss. The impact most closely associated with mine accidents and often
perceived as the most detrimental to villagers is loss of access to
water sources, either for drinking or irrigation.
The Survey shows that there have been
at least 178 mine victims in the last two years, 136 males and 42
females. The largest concentration of incidents involved persons of both
genders engaged in livestock herding (60 cases), followed by young males
who were tampering with mines or UXO (40 cases).
A community interview in Al-Nadera district of
Ibb governorate, Yemen.
The results of the
Survey clearly indicate that the Republic of Yemen suffers many adverse
consequences from landmines and UXO contamination. The collected
information will allow for the creation of a well-planned and targeted
set of mine action initiatives. Given sustained funding support, these
initiatives will allow Yemen to free itself from the most adverse
consequences of landmines. Economic opportunity and enhanced safety can
quickly be restored to those communities that are suffering the most,
with longer-term efforts aimed at concentrating resources where they
will have the greatest benefit.
With the completion of this Survey,
Yemen now has the most comprehensive set of mine related socio-economic
impact data in the world at its disposal. This data will allow Yemen to
develop effective national plans that target areas posing the greatest
threat and communities bearing the greatest impact. With focused effort
and sustained funding, the impact of landmines in Yemen can be
dramatically reduced and controlled.
*All photos courtesy of MCPA.
Qadeem Khan Tariq
Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA)
House # 58, Street 4,H2, Phase 2
Tel: + 92 91 810803/810194
Fax: + 92 91 812541