Enhancing the Safety and Resilience of Communities through Humanitarian Mine Action Interventions in Yemen
Yemen is currently facing one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, affecting more than half of its population, with a third requiring humanitarian assistance.
Posted on 01 Oct 2023
The scale of the crisis is evident. Around 431,000 individuals have been displaced, 10.5 million people need access to food, 13 million lack access to safe water and sanitation, and 90,000 children are without access to education.
Over the last two years, humanitarian programming has increased nearly threefold in scale, and funding for the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan has increased from US $121 million in 2010 to $329 million in 2012.
Coordination efforts among cluster partners and the Humanitarian Country Team, as well as partners who are not regular participants of coordination mechanisms, have strengthened the focus and sustainability of humanitarian outcomes.
This is further enhanced by joint prioritization of geographic areas for intervention and joint planning to deliver programs to those most in need. There is now closer cooperation among clusters in monitoring, assessments, and advocacy.
In Al-Omayisi Subdistrict, Al Khowkha District, Al Hodeidah Governorate, IDPs and host communities are struggling to obtain basic necessities such as water, electricity, healthcare, food, security, and protection. NGOs involved in humanitarian assistance offer support to conflict-affected populations however, mines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) frequently hinder their access to the most vulnerable.
The presence of humanitarian mine action organizations is crucial for supporting communities most affected by landmines and ERWs
The first stage of their work is to conduct non-technical survey (NTS) along with explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) activities. These initiatives aim to raise awareness within the communities about the risks associated with mines and ERWs.
Once ERWs, such as unexploded ordnance (UXO)s, are identified, the multi-task teams actively work to reduce the risk posed to individuals, enabling them to safely carry out their daily activities in their villages. These teams also gather information from UXO victims and refer them to DRC’s protection team, including for victim assistance.
Once the clearance process is completed, other organizations can access the affected areas and provide assistance to the most vulnerable communities.
Coordination and collaboration with other organizations is crucial for identifying hazardous areas in the villages, especially for those who may be unaware of the potential dangers. This allows them to take necessary precautions and become more aware of safety procedures.
During our visit to the villages of Hessi Ahmad and Al-Suwaydah, we had the opportunity to meet Mr. Abduljaleel, the village representative and brother of the Sheikh. Abduljaleel informed us that the Hessi Ahmad area consists of multiple villages affected by the presence of landmines and remnants of conflict. This area is home to over 150 families, including both displaced persons and host communities.
The area is in critical need for humanitarian aid, including healthcare, schools, and food, as basic services are currently unavailable. The local population is particularly affected by the presence of landmines and ERWs. They expressed their gratitude for the efforts made by DRC’s team in conducting NTS, EORE, and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) activities to mitigate the risk faced by both children and adults. The community also hopes for their areas to be cleared of landmines to ensure their safety.
After our EORE sessions, Mrs. Jumah reported the discovery of a suspected UXO, and we immediately contacted the EOD team for safe disposal. Additionally, during our visit, we had the opportunity to meet a mine victim who shared her personal story with us, highlighting the devastating impact of these hazards on individuals within the community.
I suffer a lot. I can't even sleep due to pain.
Amina shared her story saying, “It has been four years since my husband passed away in a car accident, I now live with my in-laws. I have two children, aged seven and four years old. We are an internally displaced family from Dhami in Hodeida to Al-Qashabiah village (Hessi Ahmed). We are among four displaced families who are living together.”
“I am a landmine victim. I had an anti-personnel mine accident when I was in Dhami. I was walking alongside my donkey, accompanied by my brother-in-law's daughter when the donkey stepped on a mine. The donkey died. The kid and I were injured with fragmentation all over our bodies,” Amina adds.
Amina required urgent medical treatment at that time, and she was immediately hospitalised at Al-Thawrah Hospital to receive the critical care she needed. She remained in a coma for a month before eventually regaining consciousness. Upon awakening, Amina discovered that fragments still were embedded in her body, and she had already suffered the loss of her left eye and a finger on her right hand. She expressed,
"I suffer a lot. I can't even sleep due to pain."
Since the accident, Amina’s in-laws have been providing her with as much support as they possibly can. However, there are instances when they struggle to afford an adequate amount of food.
Due to this, Amina engages in various tasks aimed at alleviating the financial burden and contributing to the well-being of her family. She says,
"I work in collecting wood and sheep herding, as well as doing household chores to help my in-laws."
“We are grateful to DRC for providing me the opportunity to share my story and support me, also raising awareness and supporting the children, ensuring their safety and well-being. I hope that no one else will have to experience the same accident I went through. My wish is for all villages to be cleared and free from mines and explosive remnants of war, at least we won’t feel afraid of getting hurt, both myself or my children, when we go to fetch water, tend to the sheep, or move around freely without fear.”
Amina also wishes for the area she lives in to have better services stating,
“I also hold the hope that essential services, including schools and other service will be provided for us.”
Amina with DRC staff.
Juma’ah is another success of DRC’s EORE and NTS efforts. She is a mother of four children, aged from 14 to four years old. Previously, she had the responsibility of collecting grass and grazing camels early in the morning. While working in unsafe areas, she came across a UXO without having received any risk education. Unaware of its dangers, she brought it home. However, after attending an EORE session, she realized the risk and promptly turned it over to us for destruction. We immediately reported it to the EOD team, who successfully disposed of the UXO.
Furthermore, while out with grazing animals, Juma’ah discovered another UXO but refrained from touching it. Instead, she marked its location and reported it to us. The UXO was then reported to the EOD team. Juma’ah expressed her gratitude for our work and assistance.
She wishes for the clearance teams to visit the nearby school and provide awareness sessions for children who might otherwise be unable to attend the sessions.
These stories depict the experiences of numerous families affected by conflict in Yemen. Organizations like DRC have been working to improve the safety of civilians within their communities through NTS, EORE, and EOD efforts, including addressing 174 NTS reports and 74 hazard reports in Taiz, Lahj, and Al Hodeidah. Additionally, from 2021 to 2023, 2,631 EORE sessions were conducted, benefiting a total of 32,590 beneficiaries. However, there is still much work to be done to clear contaminated areas throughout the country.
These achievements have been made possible thanks to the generous support of our donor, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
Photos of landmines and ERW in Al Khowkha, photo by: DRC Yemen