Mines action becomes critical for economic recovery in Yemen

24 Feb 2013

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Under the leadership of the National Mines Action Committee (NMAC), the Yemen Mines Action Center (YEMAC) and the United Nations Development Programme developed a new project document to take into account the new challenges in the field of mines action as a result of the recent conflicts, particularly in the North and the South of the country.

“Mine action constitutes a key pillar of the ongoing transition in Yemen by facilitating the safe return of large number of internally displaced people," stated the chairman of NMAC, H.E. Mr. Qassem Al-Agam. This new project, amounting 13,165,551 US$, benefit from financial support from the Governments of Germany, the United States of America and UNDP.

“Mines action is an unavoidable entry point for economic recovery in areas affected by recent conflicts,"highlighted Gustavo Gonzalez, UNDP Senior Country Director. It implies not only the reopening of humanitarian space, but also the restoration of land for economic purposes”, he added.

YEMAC have made significant progress in their survey, clearance and land release operations and have released 787km2 (85.3%) of that original confirmed hazardous areas (CHA) and suspect hazardous areas over the last 12 years.

As a result of the recent successive conflicts (2010 – 2012) in Sa’dah, Abyan, Amran and Hajjah, new unexpected challenges have emerged for YEMAC, introducing a new and much increased demand for mine action activities in the country.  Previously clear and cleared land has been either suspected or physically confirmed as being contaminated or recontaminated. 

The new project document takes into account new requirement for 1) Non-Technical Survey of 35,467km2 and then subsequent Technical Survey of land in Amran (1 District), Hajjah (3 Districts) and Sa’dah (15 Districts). This equates to 38 times the amount of land identified as requiring mine action in the 2000 Landmine Impact Survey (LIS).

The land contains mines, UXO/ERW and also IEDs, which has presented YEMAC with challenges.  YEMAC tactics, equipment and operational procedures are having to change to meet this new threat, which has already resulted in nice Fatalities and 20 Injuries to YEMAC staff.

YEMAC was initially established in 1999 to implement Yemen’s mines action commitment to clear contaminated land of the legacy of mines and ERW from the conflicts between 1967-1994. The YEMAC objective was then to clear 923km2 of ERW and mine contaminated land identified in the July 2000 Landmine Impact Survey (LIS).

The existing YEMAC technical, operational and financial resources require significant realignment to effectively respond to the challenges of mine action during the next 18 months of the ‘Transition’.