Mon - 12 Dec 2022 - 11:41 PM ،،،


 Project Masam Managing Director Ousama Algosaibi has told Abu-Dhabi-based independent newspaper Al-Fajr that the Yemeni lands have witnessed new developments and obstacles in how the Houthi militia plant mines, Al-Fajr reported in an article published on December 11. However, since its inception in 2018, MASAM Project spares no effort in keeping pace with these changes and overcoming all obstacles.

In an interview with Al-Fajr, Algosaibi, confirmed that Masam’s work is not limited to clearing mines and explosives of all types only, but also works to destroy them to ensure that they can’t re re-used. It continuously seeks to develop its demining capabilities and methods, despite the Houthi militia’s emphasis on developing its methods to target as many civilians as possible.

Here is the full interview by Al-Fajr:

What are the landmine clearance achievements made by Project Masam in Yemen?

Masam is a humanitarian project geared towards liberating Yemen from mines, explosives and unexploded ordnance (UXO) planted in various Yemeni regions, agricultural lands, villages, and other facilities, which have claimed the lives of many children, women, and the elderly.

Masam was launched in mid-June, 2018, under the umbrella of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), to clear mines in Yemen with Saudi expertise, international experts and Yemeni cadres trained to remove all types and forms of mines randomly planted by the Houthi militia in Yemeni lands. It focuses on addressing the direct threats resulting from the spread of these mines to the lives of innocent people, as well as providing training aimed at building Yemeni capacities in the field of mine clearance.

Masam goes on with its humanitarian action in Yemen by training and qualifying 32 engineering teams at the hands of Saudi and international experts, and a joint operations room with the Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC). The engineering teams are also provided with the latest technologies in the field of mine detection, in addition to mechanisms, equipment, and logistics. .

Masam’s work is not limited to clearing mines and explosives of all types only, but also works to destroy them to ensure they can’t be re-used. It continuously seeks to develop its demining capabilities and methods, despite the Houthi militia’s insistence on developing its methods to target as many civilians as possible.

Project Masam consists of many experienced teams for clearing and destroying mines and explosives from Yemeni territory. More than 550 employees work in the project, and all teams are trained to remove mines indiscriminately planted by the militias in Yemeni territory, including 24 foreign experts, six Saudi experts, and a number of the trained local Yemeni cadres.

Yemeni lands have witnessed new developments and obstacles in how the Houthi militia plant mines. However, since its inception in 2018, Masam spares no effort in keeping pace with these changes and overcoming all obstacles.

This is all meant to demine Yemeni land, and respond quickly to emergency situations after locating mines in the liberated areas by developing plans that help trained teams with demining, and control the humanitarian disaster to ensure that it does not turn into an unprecedented catastrophe at the world level.

How many governorates wherein MASAM works?

Masam has been working in 11 Yemeni regions: Sana’a, Al-Jawf, Shabwah, Marib, Al Hudaydah, Taiz, Aden, Al-Bayda, Sa’ada, Al-Dhalea, and Lahj.

What are the governorates that suffer the most from Houthi mines?

According to Masam’s demining statistics, Taiz governorate is the most mine-contaminated, as Houthi mines and explosives went viral in 18 out of 23 districts in Taiz.

Since Masam’s operations kicked off in Yemen, its engineering teams operating in Taiz have managed to clear 90,000 mines and explosives from the districts of Dhubab, Al-Mokha, Al-Waziyah, and Mawza’.

Al-Hudeidah governorate comes second in terms of the large number of mines and casualties too. Despite the endless efforts made by Masam’s engineering teams in Al-Hudeidah, which have managed so far to clear 20,000 mines and explosives, the mined areas still account for the majority, and Masam’s teams cannot have access to them now [due to the shifting frontlines].

Al-Jawf, Shabwah, and Marib come third, where the Houthi militia planted mines in all vital areas directly related to the lives of civilians and the sources of livelihood.

In those governorates, Masam’s teams are doubling their efforts, and making great achievements. Indeed, there are areas in Shabwah and Al-Jawf that are currently being secured for the third time in a row [after Houthis .

The teams operating in Marib, Shabwah and Al-Jawf, since mid-2018 up to this moment, have been able to clear and dismantle more than 150,000 mines, explosives and UXO.

How many mines have been removed by Masam since the moment it kicked off?

From mid-June 2018 to this moment, Masam’s engineering teams have removed 376,200 mines, UXO and explosives.

Masam’s operation room showed that the project teams removed 227,790 UXO, 7,638 explosives, 134,853 anti-tank mines (ATs) and 5,919 anti-personnel mines (APs).

According to the operations room, the engineering teams have demined 41,709,403 square meters of Yemeni lands.

How did the Houthi militia plant all these mines in Yemen?

The Houthi militia randomly planted mines and explosives in huge numbers and with modern and criminal technologies, without handing over the minefield maps for the removal operations in the liberated areas. Its inhumane action is military-based, but rather with the aim of harming and killing the largest possible number of innocent children, women and the elderly, as well as destroying land and property and even killing animals.

On this ground, Masam does not work according to maps of the mined areas until this moment. It depends on information obtained from field survey teams, which are concerned with collecting information from the local community. It also depends on reports on explosions in some areas. After surveying these areas, they are submitted to the clearance teams to start removal and securing.

How many victims of the Houthi mines [have been reported]?

Estimations show that a number of Yemeni regions saw the random planning of mines by the Houthi militia, exceeding more than a million mines of various shapes and sizes and in the complete absence of maps. The mines claimed the lives of thousands of Yemenis, and injured tens of thousands causing amputations.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) bureau in Yemen revealed on April 4th that 1,800 civilians were killed or injured, including 689 women and children, due to mines and UXO in a myriad of Yemeni governorates over four years.

The tragedy of thousands of Yemeni victims of the Houthi mines continues in a country whose people are eager for peace. For instance, there are areas and villages in some governorates surrounded by mines, so their residents have become surrounded by them and cannot leave their villages. This in itself is not a military goal, but a crime against humanity.

The report indicated that 75% of the injured lost their limbs or one of them, becoming disabled or disfigured as a result of the explosion of APs or ATs and explosives.

Children make up a large proportion of mine victims. A third of them was playing in the fields and have become disabled – facing a dark future.

In the same vein, the Yemeni Observatory for Landmine Removal said, “Children are paying a heavy price for mines planted by the Houthis and UXO from war remnants.”

The victims of Houthi mines, most of whom are children, still fall, as confirmed by the Group of Experts on Yemen in its report submitted to the Security Council in December 2019.

What types of mines found by MASAM’s teams during their battle so far?

Masam’s teams deal with all types of conventional and local landmines that the militias produce in their own factories, with different sizes, shapes and targets, making up 85% of the total removed mines.

The majority of locally-made mines are among the most dangerous mines, as they are used as individual mines tailored to explode under the slightest pressure, and they are of several types, including:

APs, planted at the entrances to villages and populated areas.

ATs have been converted by the Houthi militia into highly dangerous APs.

Masam’s teams also deal with explosives developed and camouflaged by the Houthi militia in the form of stones, iron concrete, and other familiar and deceptive shapes, in addition to camouflaged explosives in the form of booby-trapped rocks or explosive palm trunks placed on farms.

The teams dealt with explosives in car tires and could remove huge numbers of dangerous, high-explosive devices. Among the dangerous forms used by the Houthi militia recently are bounding mines or what is known as fragmentation mines, bouncing APs.

In Shabwah, we found mines that we see for the first time in a size larger than any mines we have ever found in Yemen. With regard to explosives, the huge number planted in Yemeni lands is unbelievable. All of them were manufactured professionally, and some of them contain remote control devices, with imported materials and high-tech production method.

In this regard, Masam uses the latest mine clearance technology and advanced devices, thus keeping up with all the mines constantly developed by the Houthi militia.

There are special teams in Masam, rapid intervention teams to remove explosives, and special teams to destroy all mines and UXO removed so that no party can re-plant them.

When is Yemen expected to be officially declared mine-free?

The Houthi militia is still producing and planting mines intensively in all Yemeni regions, deliberately harming civilians, whether by starving them by curbing their movement to their farms and workplaces, or by killing and maiming them and turning them into disabled supported by their families after they used to be supporters.

Masam struggles with clearing mines in eight Yemeni governorates, from Shabwah in the east to Taiz, Al-Hudeidah and Hajjah in the west.

Although Masam uses sophisticated mine clearance techniques and devices, along with foreign experts on the team list, clearing all mined areas still requires time and double efforts under the continuous Houthi war and activity in planting mines randomly and in the absence of maps locating the deadly devices. This poses a threat to Yemenis and disrupts life in Yemen in several areas that are still contaminated by mines.

With mines, the future of Yemen is dark and disastrous. Yemen is now one of the world’s most mine-planted countries since World War II. Without demining operations, there will be no stability and no development. The movement of Yemenis will be restricted, their livelihood will be narrowed, and Yemen will continue to bleed daily.