Feature: Landmines, lingering spectre of cruel war, still haunt civilians in northern Yemen-Xinhua

Feature: Landmines, lingering spectre of cruel war, still haunt civilians in northern Yemen

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-05-27 22:58:59

HAJJAH, Yemen, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Almost six months have passed since the 12-year-old Raed Gerbhi lost his right leg to a landmine blast, the wounds from which quickly healed, but the pain and suffering were far from wearing off.

"I lost my leg in the landmine explosion while I was herding the sheep" in December, the boy told Xinhua in his home village of Bani Faid, on the outskirts of the besieged coastal city of Midi.

"My life has become very difficult ever since ... With only a pair of crutches, life narrows down. I could no longer move between the hut and the sheepfold," he said.

"I want a prosthetic leg, so I can go back to school, play with my friends, and herd sheep," he added.

His older brother, Ali, said he wishes for a better future for Raed, but no immediate solution is available, as there are no medical facilities in the besieged city that make artificial limbs.

Raed was sent by the Yemeni government to Saudi Arabia for treatment after the explosion, where he stayed hospitalized for nearly two months.

Hassan Musbih, a tribal sheikh in the village, said leftover landmines placed during the chronic Yemeni civil war have inflicted a disastrous human toll.

"The landmines planted under the sands of farms, pastures, and roads have caused a humanitarian disaster and great terror among the residents here. The number of victims is increasing day by day ..." he said.

This was compounded by the fact that "the war destroyed hospitals in the area and left the health system out of readiness," Musbih explained.

"Most victims are children and farmers ... Dozens of agricultural vehicles were also destroyed and many sheep, camels, and cows were killed."

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government continues to locate and remove leftover landmines in Midi and other areas.

Demining experts in Yemen say that more than a million landmines have been laid since the outbreak of the civil war in late 2014, when the Iranian-backed Houthi militia took control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital, Sanaa.

Most of these landmines were homemade from plastic in the form of small rocks, food cans, and water bottles.

"The landmines have caused a major catastrophe in the country and threaten the lives of millions," said Kabol al-Absi of the Qarar Foundation for Media and Development, a non-governmental organization.

Recently, the Yemeni government, humanitarian organizations, and local activists took the chance of the two-month truce to launch a media campaign, urging the Houthi group to provide landmine maps for the removal work.

"The demining process may take many years" if they refuse to offer the maps, al-Absi told Xinhua.

Huda Al-Sarari, an advocate of the demining campaign, told Xinhua that "the campaign also tries to prevent more civilian casualties as most of the victims are children and women. It also aims at drawing the attention of the international community towards this catastrophe."

According to the latest statistics published on the website of the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (MASAM) in Yemen, the project has so far removed 339,431 landmines from all over Yemen since mid-2018.