Issue 5.3 | December 2001
Mine Awareness Education in the Republic of Yemen
Yemen Mine Awareness Association works with a number of other
organizations to spread mine awareness and conduct mine surveys
in the hopes of increasing the safety of its people now and in
years to come.
by Aisha Saeed Nalya, Senior
Programme Officer, Save the Children Sweden, Aden; Chairperson, Yemen
Mine Awareness Association
An MAE child-to-child team in
The Republic of Yemen
is situated on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula between the
Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It is a country of beautiful scenes and
architecture. The Republic of Yemen has 17 million
people and is growing at a rate of 3.7 percent annually.
Until 1990, Yemen was divided into two
independent countries: North Yemen and South Yemen. For several decades
prior to unification both countries engaged in armed conflicts where AT
and AP mines were deployed. However, most of the mines were planted in
1962–1975, when republicans fought the royalists in the North from
1963–1967, when the South fought for independence from the British
during the border conflicts (1970–1983) and during the May–July 1994
civil war when separatists in the south fought for dissolving the union.
Yemen signed the Ottawa Convention on
4 December 1997 and ratified it on 1 September 1998. The bill ratifying
the Ottawa Convention was passed in the parliament on 12 May 1998, and
the ratification instrument was deposited at the UN in New York 1
September 1998, making the Republic of Yemen the 34th
country to ratify the convention.
After the two-month
war in 1994, Save the Children Sweden conducted some interviews in the
Aden, Sana’a, Lahej and Abyan governorates with war-affected children.
They found that there were problems with not only landmines but also UXO, which remained in several places and which many children were
tempted to pick up.
Save the Children Sweden invited
partner organizations such as the Child-to-Child Association, the Girl
Guides and the Boy Scouts, the Red Crescent and the Committee for War
Traumatized Children; representatives from Ministries of Education,
Defense, Interior, Health and Social Affairs; and international agencies
such as UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDHA and ICRC to a workshop on landmines in
April 1995 in Aden, where the focus was on mine awareness education.
Mine awareness materials used in
Somali and Rwandan campaigns were introduced by UNESCO PEER staff from
Nairobi, and the landmine situation in the south of Yemen was presented
by two officers from the Ministry of Defense’s demining unit and the
UNDHA demining expert. As a result of this workshop, the Yemen Mines
Awareness Committee was established.
Together with Save the Children
Sweden, the Yemen Mines Awareness Committee has worked with mine
awareness education in the three southern governorates—Aden, Lahej and
In December 1995 and January 1996, a
mine awareness campaign was carried out in most of the primary schools
in the three southern governorates. The preparations for this campaign
started in April 1995 in cooperation with Save the Children Sweden.
Fifteen training of trainers workshops for 502 school staff in the three
governorates were implemented. Also, 10,000 posters, 150,000 booklets
with 10,000 teachers’ manuals were designed by members of the Mines
Awareness Committee and printed in time to reach over 140,000 school
children, who in turn gave mine awareness messages to their families and
MAE in Lahej
In addition to this campaign, a
special in-depth program on mine awareness was implemented with the
Child-to-Child approach in 19 schools, where 109 school staff members
were trained to involve 25,150 pupils.
In December 1998, the Yemen Mines
Awareness Committee registered as an NGO named Yemen Mine Awareness
Association (YMAA). Save the Children Sweden and YMAA carried out a
community-based mine awareness pilot project in four villages: Al-Kood (Abyan),
Amran (Aden), Masabeen (Aden) and Al-Habil (Lahej).
In connection with this project, a
survey on mine victims/survivors has also been conducted. This is the
first real survey on mine/UXO accidents, including deaths, to be
undertaken in Yemen. In 1996, a team of YMAA also interviewed police,
security and hospital staff in the three governorates of Aden, Abyan and
The Members of The Yemen Mine
Members of the Yemen
Mine Awareness Association belong to different Yemeni NGOs like the
Child-to-Child Association in Taiz and Aden, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides,
Red Crescent, the Trauma Committee and the staff from different
ministries of defense, education, information and health. At the start
in April 1995, there were nine members, and a year later ten members
joined. These members worked together with Save the Children Sweden as
associate members. In December 1998, the new members joined the
Association from the villages where the members are active.
Field testing an MAE game in a
All the members of the Yemen Mine
Awareness Association are volunteers, and half of them are women.
The International Campaign for Banning Landmines (ICBL)
nominated three members of Yemen Mine Awareness Association as landmine
monitor researchers. They attended both regional and international
landmine monitor meetings and submitted their reports on Yemen for 2000–2001.
The landmine monitor is mainly used as an advocacy tool, and the
researchers monitor the Yemeni government compliance with the
mine ban convention.
Mine Awareness Department at the
Regional Mine Action Centre (RMAC)
In 1998, the U.S. team
trained 12 mine awareness educators within the RMAC in Aden. They have
mobile village presentations in the villages around the C6 area, which
was cleared recently by the new trained demining companies.
The work of the mine awareness
department (six staff) at the RMAC in Aden concentrates on raising the
awareness of different target groups living in villages close to the
mine fields and supporting the work of the deminers in these fields.
MAE regional workshop with CTC approach.
Mine awareness is mainly raised by
village presentations that are preceded by meetings with the key people
(e.g., sheikhs, akles, imams and teachers) where information is gathered
regarding accidents, mine victims, and places where mines and UXO have
been found. Special forms are filled out to record the information that
will also be valuable to deminers.
The village presentation consists of
lectures to the communities in large meetings. The materials used are
plastic models of frequently found mines/UXO and circulars.
Joint Mine Awareness Activities
The YMAA has been
granted $31,000 (U.S.) for its community-based Mine Awareness Education
Program (MAE) for which it collaborates with the NMAC and RMAC. The
money is also used for advocacy work around the Mine Ban Treaty. New
mine awareness education material was produced specifically for
children, and a quarterly newsletter featuring current mine action
activities, the progress in the Mine Action Centres and interviews with
the villagers in the mine-infested areas is circulated regularly. Eight
issues have already been printed and distributed to the media as well as
among the staff at the mine action centres, the members of the National
Demining Committee, concerned ministries and the community members
involved in mine awareness education. International news events on
landmine issues of children’s, mine survivors’ and villagers’
voices are highlighted in the newsletter.
The mine awareness department at RMAC
does not have the community-based approach that the YMAA uses in their
MAE, which includes directly involving the community members in an MAE
project in their village so that they disseminate mine awareness
messages, as well as keeping the information flowing even after the mine
awareness teams have left. Since they also help conduct mine victim
surveys and evaluate the MAE project, it is now an advantage that the
YMAA members have asked to cooperate in the villages to blend in their
approach with that of the mine awareness department.
It has also been difficult for the
mine awareness department to reach the women, since they do not have any
women in their team, while half of the YMAA members are women and many
are trained teachers.
A Level One Survey was finished in
Yemen in July 2000. The survey identified 592 affected communities. To
meet the needs of these communities, mine awareness programs have been
developed jointly by YMAA and the mine awareness department at the
Regional Mine Action Centre. Both Qataba (Al-Dhala governorate) and Al-Nadra
(Ebb governorate) were identified by Level One Survey as high-risk
areas. Therefore, YMAA members supported by the American Embassy (Sana’a)
utilized their community-based experience and trained the key
personalities in 10 villages during the time from April–September 2001
to disseminate mine awareness education among their communities and
practice safe behavior.
New mine awareness materials depicting
mine survivors and cartoon stories for children will be produced during
Advocacy in the Region
In November 1997, a
Regional Seminar on Landmines was organized by the Yemen Mines Awareness
Committee and Save the Children Sweden. The event was sponsored by Save
the Children Sweden, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and
the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF),
and it was hosted by the President’s Office. Eleven regional
governments were represented: Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait,
Lebanon, Oman, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.
NGO representatives came from Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Jordan, Lebanon,
Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The Sana’a Declaration was approved
by all the participants. The declaration urges all countries to sign the
Mine Ban Treaty and calls for assistance from the international
community to support humanitarian demining assistance not only for those
countries that sign the treaty but also for those countries whose
populations suffer from the mine threat but have not yet signed the
A regional Mine Awareness Education
workshop with the Child-to-Child approach was organized in Yemen by Save
the Children Sweden and took place 27 November–3 December 1999.
Twenty-five participants from Sudan, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and
Yemen took part in the week-long workshop in Aden. Among the Yemeni
participants with facilitators from the Yemen Mine Awareness Association
were teachers from primary schools in Aden, Abyan and Lahej and also
staff from the National and Regional Mine Action Centers. A field visit
to Al Kood community was also on the program. The participants here had
the opportunity to meet with school children and community members who
are involved in the community-based MAE pilot project.
The November 1999 Regional Mine
Awareness Workshop, with the Child-to-Child Approach, led to two
workshops in Jordan and Lebanon. Shafica Moh’d Saeed, member of the
YMAA and Chairperson of the Child-to-Child Association, facilitated a
mine awareness education workshop on 17–18 April 2000, which was
funded by Save the Children Sweden and the Save the Children U.S. for
youths in Tyre in the south of Lebanon. In August 2000, Aisha Saeed,
Chairperson of the Yemen Mine Awareness Association and Program Officer
for Save Children Sweden, facilitated a mine awareness workshop for
supervisors of youth center held on 8–17 August 2000 in Aqaba, Jordan.
Designing, Field Testing and
In 1995, the Yemen
Mine Awareness Committee designed and published two booklets and a
poster in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and UNDHA expert Paul
Kelly. This material was used in a 1995 mine awareness campaign reaching
school children in the primary schools in Aden, Lahej and Abyan. In
1996, the mine awareness campaign was evaluated, the material was
revised and it was decided that in the future all newly produced
material should be field tested.
In July 2000, a game and a new poster
on frequent mines and UXO in different parts of Yemen were designed.
During the summer camp, this new mine awareness material was field
tested in schools, and children gave valuable comments that were
considered during final production. Also, comments from the communities
in the pilot areas and the staff of the mine action center were
Both YMAA and the staff from the mine
action program participated in the international workshop on "The
Design of Material, Resources and Other Media in Mine Awareness
Program," held on 19–22 February 2001, which will have an impact
on mine awareness material produced in Yemen.
MAE in summer camp.
• Good cooperation and coordination
between the NGOs, the government and communities is a must for the mine
awareness program to succeed. Also, work at all levels (e.g., local,
national) is essential.
• Mine awareness messages must be
repeated several times, using different methods but giving the same
• Community-based mine awareness
activities should be followed up involving all members of the
• It is important to use the
appropriate mine awareness materials for different target groups.
• Nomads, shepherds and children
not attending schools should be reached at their gathering points.
• Children are resourceful and can
influence other children in their community, especially those with less
opportunity and education than themselves.
1. Nelke, C. A
Review of Mine Awareness Education in Three Southern Governorates: Aden
Lahej and Abyan. 1996.
2. Nelke, C. Landmine Monitor
Report on the Republic of Yemen 1999–2000. 2000.
Aisha Saeed Nalya
Senior Programme Officer
Save the Children Sweden
Chairperson of YMAA
P.O. Box: 476
Republic of Yemen
Tel. (Office): 967-2-231602/231507