Mine Action

Last updated: 30 July 2010

Contamination and Impact


Yemen is contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of a series of armed conflicts dating back to 1962. It is not known to what extent armed conflict with rebel forces led by Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi has resulted in new mine contamination, although Yemen has claimed that the insurgents have laid new mines in Sa’daa governorate (see Mine Ban Policy section of this Country Profile).[1] Most of the mines were laid prior to Yemen’s unification, which occurred in 1990, in border areas between northern and southern Yemen. A Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) completed in July 2000 identified 592 mine and ERW-affected villages across 18 of Yemen’s 21 governorates. The LIS estimated that suspected hazardous area (SHAs) covered 922km2, and subsequent demining identified a further 10 mined areas estimated to cover a total of some 600,000m2.[2]

The extent of Yemen’s residual threat remains unclear. According to the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC), as of the end of 2009, a total of 776km2 had been released by clearance and survey,[3] leaving remaining SHAs totaling 146km2.[4] However, claimed release of SHAs in 2009 of only about 33km2 (see Land Release section below) means that this claim is unsubstantiated, and the figures for release appear to include SHAs that have been marked or which are suspended. Moreover, different figures have been provided by Yemen in its latest Article 7 transparency report, which variously suggests that as of March 2010, a total of 398.5km2 or 145km2 remained to be released.[5]

The Article 7 report submitted by Yemen in March 2010 noted that the LIS had found 14 high-impact SHAs, of which 11 had been cleared or otherwise released as of March 2010.[6] According to YEMAC, clearance in the three remaining areas, which amounted to total SHA of 14.38km2, was either suspended because of difficulties in clearance (equivalent to almost 0.5km2 of mined areas), or release was ongoing or planned.[7] Among medium-impact SHAs, release of 143.93km2 was ongoing, clearance of specific minefields amounting to 0.35km2 had been suspended within 33km2 of SHA, and 7.04km2 had not yet been addressed. Among low-impact SHAs, release of 47.64km2 was reported to be ongoing, clearance was ongoing in ten minefields with a total area of 1.83km2 within six broader SHAs (totaling 13.79km2), while clearance of six minefields totaling an area of 0.26km2 had been suspended, and 138.72km2 had not yet been addressed.[8]

According to YEMAC, Aden and Al Hodaida governorates have been fully cleared and handed over while clearance operations have been completed in Dhamar, Hajjah, Raymah, and Sana’a governorates, with the land released to the local communities, but not yet formally handed over to the local authorities.[9] This suggests that 12 governorates remain contaminated.

Whatever the correct total, much of the remaining SHA is expected to be released without the need for clearance. Yemen’s Article 5 deadline extension request foresaw that, as of the end of 2008, only some 12km2 would require full clearance; the rest would be canceled or reduced by technical survey.[10] In 2009, Yemen reported clearance of 3.20km2 (see Mine clearance in 2009 section below).

Cluster munition remnants

It is not known to what extent Yemen is affected by cluster munition remnants. In early June 2010, Amnesty International reported the presence of unexploded BLU-97 submunitions that it alleged originated from a United States cruise missile attack on 17 December 2009 on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan area in the south of Yemen.[11]

Other explosive remnants of war

The LIS estimate included contamination from ERW. It is not known to what extent additional contamination has resulted from armed conflict with Al-Houthi rebels.

Mine Action Program

Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2010

National Mine Action Authority

National Mine Action Committee

Mine action center


International demining operators


National demining operators


International risk education operators


National risk education operators

YEMAC, Yemen Mine Awareness Association


The National Mine Action Committee (NMAC) was established in June 1998 by prime ministerial decree to formulate policy, allocate resources, and develop a national mine action strategy.[12] NMAC, chaired by the Minister of State (a member of the cabinet), brings together representatives of seven concerned ministries.

YEMAC was established in Sana’a in January 1999 as NMAC’s implementing body. YEMAC is responsible for coordination of all mine action activities in the country.[13] A Regional Executive Mine Action Branch (REMAB) and a National Training Center in Aden were also set up. Another REMAB was added in March 2004 in al-Mukalla (Hadramout governorate). REMABs are responsible for field implementation of the national mine action plan.

In May 1999, UNDP started a program to support YEMAC. In October 2003, the program moved from direct (UN) execution to national execution. UNDP continues to support the program, but there has been no international technical advisor since 2005. Support from the the German Society for Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit, GTZ) enabled the construction of a mine detection dog (MDD) center in Sana’a and training of MDD handlers.[14]

In March 2008, YEMAC updated its strategic mine action plan to cover April 2009 to September 2014, within the extension period it sought in its Article 5 deadline extension request (see Compliance with Article 5 section below).[15]

Program evaluations

An evaluation of UNDP support to the Yemeni mine action program in 2005 recommended that Yemen conduct a socio-economic assessment of the use of released land. This was carried out in 2006. Based on the results of the assessment, YEMAC planned to establish a department to promote socio-economic development of cleared areas. This had not occurred as of early 2010.[16]

Land Release

Land release on SHAs is conducted by YEMAC through technical survey. YEMAC has reported that it never releases any land without technical survey and quality assurance (QA). QA teams must visit every suspected mined area to cross-check the information.[17]

Five-year summary of land release


Mined area cleared (km2)

Suspected mined area canceled or otherwise released by survey (km2)




















Survey in 2009

YEMAC has reported releasing some 30km2 by technical survey in 2009. No SHAs were canceled by non-technical survey. Survey capacity includes 12 survey teams, and three Mine Detection Dog Groups (MDDGs), each MDDG containing six dogs and six handlers.[18]

Mine clearance in 2009

YEMAC reported to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor that it cleared a total of 3.20km2 of mined areas and no battle areas in 2009.[19] YEMAC clarified in July 2010 that its mine clearance in 2008 was of 3.61km2 and similarly claimed no battle area clearance (BAC), despite destroying a significant quantity of UXO.[20]

Mine clearance in Yemen is undertaken solely by the Engineering Forces of the Ministry of Defense who are seconded to YEMAC. YEMAC uses a variety of demining tools: manual deminers, MDDs, and, since early 2007, demining machines. Demining capacity is composed of six companies totaling 430 deminers and five platoons with 31 deminers in each platoon.[21]

A backhoe demining machine, delivered to YEMAC by the US Department of Defense for testing, has been used since January 2007. The machine is intended to clear antipersonnel mines deeper than 1.5m in desert areas.  However, as most minefields consist of both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines, it has not proved particularly efficient.[22]

Mine clearance in 2009[23]


Mined area cleared (km2)

No. of antipersonnel mines destroyed

No. of antivehicle mines destroyed

No. of UXO destroyed during mine clearance

Clearance teams





Technical survey teams





MDD teams










N/R = not reported

*Total number of mines and UXO destroyed was not disaggregated between the clearance and disposal teams.

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with a six-year extension to its Article 5 deadline granted by States Parties in 2008), Yemen is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2015.

Yemen cited a series of factors for its failure to meet its 1 March 2009 deadline, including shortfalls in funding (especially in 2003, 2005, and 2006) and the presence of mines in shifting sands as well as their depth (some up to six meters below the surface), as well as its mountainous areas and problems using mine detectors in the ferrous soil.[24]

In granting Yemen’s extension request, the Ninth Meeting of States Parties had noted the “value of further clarity regarding the extent of Yemen’s remaining challenge and on steps taken by Yemen to overcome the technical challenges that have posed as impeding circumstances in the past.”[25] Nonetheless, despite concerns about the reliability of its data,[26] Yemen has made significant progress in mine clearance since becoming a State Party to the treaty.

Yemen did not update the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies in June 2010 on its progress in implementing its Article 5 obligations. Under Action Point 13 of the Cartagena Action Plan adopted by the Second Review Conference in 2009, States Parties undertake to: “Complete implementation of Article 5 as soon as possible but not later than their extended deadlines, ensure progress toward completion proceeds in accordance with the commitments made in their extension requests and the decisions taken on their requests, and report regularly on such progress to the meetings of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Meetings of the States Parties and Review Conferences.”[27]

Battle area clearance in 2009

YEMAC also has seven two-person “UXO disposal” teams conducting BAC and explosive ordnance disposal.[28] As noted above, a total of 36,989 items of UXO were cleared by these teams as well as the mine clearance teams in 2009.[29] This clearance has not been disaggregated between the mine clearance and UXO disposal teams.

Community liaison

YEMAC has “mine awareness” field teams that operate in the same areas prior to, and during, marking operations to ensure the local population is aware of the ongoing operations, and is advised of the dangers of mines.[30]

Quality management

National mine action standards and YEMAC’s standing operating procedures were approved by NMAC in 2006. There is no independent quality management system of demining operations. YEMAC has five two-person QA teams to verify the quality of its clearance.[31]

Demining by non-state armed groups

Yemen has reported that some mines have been cleared by non-state armed groups in Sada’a governorate.[32] No further details of this clearance have been provided.

Safety of demining personnel

During 2009, four demining accidents caused six demining casualties (five injured and one killed).[33]

Other Risk Reduction Measures

YEMAC coordinates and supervises mine/ERW risk education (RE), which continues to be conducted by its RE department and the Yemen Mine Awareness Association. In March 2010, their RE efforts were said to be focused on three refugee camps in Sada’a governorate after the insurgency.[34]

[1] Article 7 Report, Form I, 31 March 2010.

[2] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 2.

[3] Email from Ahmed Alawi, Information Management System Officer, Operations Department, YEMAC, 20 May 2010.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Compare the data in Forms C and I of Article 7 Report, 31 March 2010.

[6] Article 7 Report, Form C, 31 March 2010.

[7] Email from Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 8 July 2010.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 20 May 2010.

[10] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 12.

[11] Amnesty International, “Images of missile and cluster munitions point to US role in fatal attack in Yemen,” 7 June 2010,

[12] Article 7 Report, Form I, 31 March 2009.

[13] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 2.

[14] Telephone interview with Mansour al-Azi, Director, YEMAC, 12 August 2009.

[15] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 10.

[16] Telephone interview with Mansour al-Azi, YEMAC, 24 February 2010.

[17] Ibid, 20 August 2009; and see Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 9.

[18] Article 7 Report, Form F, 31 March 2010; and email from Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 8 July 2010.

[19] Email from Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 15 May 2010.

[20] Ibid, 8 July 2010 and 21 July 2009.

[21] Ibid, 8 July 2010.

[22] Telephone interview with Mansour al-Azi, YEMAC, 12 August 2009.

[23] Email from Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 15 May 2010.

[24] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, pp. 3–4.

[25] Decision on the Yemen Article 5 deadline Extension Request, Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 28 November 2008.

[26] For example, on several occasions, including 2010, Yemen has reported different figures for clearance and land released by survey for the same years, as well as different estimates for its residual mine/ERW threat.

[27]  UN, “Cartagena Action Plan 2010–2014: Ending the suffering cause by anti-personnel mines,” Unofficial version, Cartagena, 11 December 2009. 

[28] Article 7 Report, Form I, 31 March 2010.

[29] Email from Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 15 May 2010.

[30] Article 7 Report, Form I, 31 March 2010.

[31] Ibid, Forms F and I.

[32] Ibid, Form I.

[33] Email from Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 8 July 2010.

[34] Article 7 Report, Form I, 31 March 2010.