Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline: 1 March 2020
(Not on track to meet deadline)
Not a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions
Lack of funds and the escalation of conflict in the second half of 2014 imposed major constraints on mine action at a point when the extent of the problem has increased, setting back prospects for fulfilling Yemen’s Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 obligations and hindering the performance of the mine action program.
Recommendations for action
- The Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC) should draw up a new national strategy with an updated estimate of mine and cluster munition contamination, details of available human and financial resources, and estimates of what it can realistically achieve.
- YEMAC should give access and accreditation to international operators to take advantage of their technical expertise and fundraising capabilities.
The Republic of Yemen is contaminated with mines from conflicts in 1962–1969 and 1970–1983, as well as mines that were laid in border areas between North and South Yemen before they unified in 1990, and again in conflicts that erupted in 1994 and since 2010. The extent of contamination is not known.
A Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) completed in 2000 identified suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) containing mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) covering an estimated 922km2 and affecting 592 villages across 18 of Yemen’s 21 governorates. Yemen’s first Article 5 deadline extension request stated in 2008 that 710km² had been released and 457 areas covering 213km² remained to be “addressed.”
In December 2013, Yemen’s second Article 5 deadline extension request identified 107 confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs) containing mines covering some 8km2 and 438 SHAs covering a further 338km2. It added it had still to survey the governorates of Amran, Hajjah, and Sanaa. Then in March 2014, YEMAC reported SHAs affected by antipersonnel mines covering 132km2 from a total SHA of 294km2. The total included 22km2 of area contaminated by antivehicle mines.
Yemen’s last Article 7 transparency report for the year to the end of March 2014 stated that 20 of Yemen’s 21 governorates are affected by antipersonnel and antivehicle mines and estimated contamination at 432.89km2, only slightly more (by 4%) than the previous year’s Article 7 report estimate. Most of the remaining areas identified as contaminated were in Abyan, Ibb, and Sadaa governorates.
New use of antipersonnel mines by Houthi forces was reported in Aden and possible use in Abyan governorate near Aden in 2015. It has also been reported since 2011 that insurgents in Sadaa have laid homemade mines, later clearing some but missing others. There are also credible reports of apparent government use of antipersonnel mines at Bani Jarmooz, near Sanaa in 2011. The number of mines and extent of area affected remain to be determined. Information provided to YEMAC by local inhabitants in February 2014 suggested 25 villages were impacted (see Mine Ban Policy country profile for more details).
Cluster munition contamination
Yemen has significant contamination from cluster munition remnants but much of it is in areas of ongoing conflict and the full extent is not known. YEMAC reported in 2014 that it had identified some 18km2 of suspected cluster munition hazards in the northern Sadaa governorate but also knew of other areas of contamination in northwestern Hajjah governorate it had not been able to survey.
Cluster munition contamination almost certainly increased in 2015 as a result of air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Ansar Allah (the Houthi), most notably in Sadaa, their main stronghold (see Cluster Munition Ban section for further details).
Yemen established a National Mine Action Committee (NMAC) in June 1998 by prime ministerial decree to formulate policy, allocate resources, and develop a national mine action strategy. NMAC, chaired by the Minister of State (a member of the cabinet), brings together representatives of seven concerned ministries.
YEMAC was established in Sanaa in January 1999 as NMAC’s implementing body with responsibility for coordinating mine action in the country. It is supported by a Regional Executive Mine Action Branch (REMAB) and a National Training Center in Aden (also set up in 1999) and another REMAB in al-Mukalla (Hadramout governorate) added in March 2004. REMABs are responsible for field implementation of the national mine action plan. However, escalating political turmoil and conflict in 2014 together with lack of funding have impaired YEMAC’s abilities to discharge its responsibilities.
All mine and ERW survey and clearance is conducted by YEMAC, which reported starting 2014 with six clearance teams composed of 293 deminers, 12 technical survey teams with 76 personnel, eight explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams with 85 personnel, and two quality assurance teams. YEMAC had previously reported that all clearance activities were conducted on an emergency basis and that it had broken its teams into small groups to deal with ERW contamination, including cluster munition remnants.
The UNDP started a program to support YEMAC in May 1999, switching from UN execution to national implementation in October 2003. In March 2013, UNDP embarked on a new US$10 million, four-year program of support, returning to “direct implementation” and providing an international technical advisor to work with NMAC and YEMAC to develop a national strategy, set priorities, and define national standards. The project document states, “the existing YEMAC technical, operational and financial resources require significant realignment to effectively respond to the challenges of mine action during the next six years: 2014–2019.”
In December 2013, Yemen applied for a second five-year extension to its Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline until March 2020, identifying remaining mined area for clearance at 8.14km2. The request projected clearance of more than 1.6km2 of mined area a year between June 2014 and May 2019 and allowed another year for clearing any additional hazards identified during the extension period.
Yemen acknowledges its mine action strategy is outdated and needs to be revised and reached an agreement with UNDP to provide technical support to develop a new strategy, including for resource mobilization. The strategy will also lay out UNDP’s exit from mine action in Yemen.
YEMAC’s 2014 workplan aimed at clearance of a total of 2.36km2 of contaminated land, including 1.77km2 of mined area. It made no reference to non-technical survey but set a target of conducting technical survey on areas totaling 38.27km2. YEMAC reportedly started 2014 with six demining companies, a demining platoon, three mine detection dog groups, 12 survey teams, and two quality assurance teams. It planned to add additional capacity and to acquire new detectors, safety equipment, and vehicles but deferred equipment purchases because of shortage of funds.
Yemen has no strategic plan for tackling cluster munition remnants.
YEMAC released a total mine and ERW-contaminated area of 837,476m2 through clearance and 2.6km2 through survey in 2014, according to UNDP’s 2014 annual report of its program in Yemen. YEMAC did not provide information directly on the results of survey and clearance operations in 2014.
Despite escalating conflict in 2015, YEMAC indicated in March 2015 that its staff had been able to continue working in a number of areas, including Ibb and Al Dhale governorates, but gave no details of its operations.
No clearance of cluster munition contamination was reported in 2014.
Survey in 2014
YEMAC teams conducted non-technical survey in July 2014, identifying 14.6km2 of suspected contamination in three districts in Sadaa governorate (As Safrah, Sadaa city, and Sehr) and 2.9km2 of SHA in two districts of Sanaa governorate (Arhab and Bani al-Harth). YEMAC teams conducted technical survey of a total of 3.55km2 in the governorates of Abyan, Sadaa, and Sanaa, releasing 2.6km2 and marking 0.96km2.
Clearance in 2014
YEMAC reportedly cleared a total of 837,476m2 in 2014, of which 498,165m2 (59%) was attributed to “UXO [unexploded ordnance] groups” apparently denoting battle area clearance (BAC). Clearance operations were largely confined to the first half of the year and resulted in the destruction of five antipersonnel mines, eight antivehicle mines, and 384 items of UXO. Eight mined areas were reportedly handed over to the population in 2014, benefitting 120,718 people in Abyan, Al Dhale, Amran, Hadhramaut, Ibb, Lahej, and Sadaa.
YEMAC reported that its teams started survey and clearance of mines laid in Bani Jarmoz on 6 March 2014, but five days later it halted all activities because of a lack of funding.
Clearance in 2015
Yemeni mine action officials told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that on 11 July 2015 they began emergency clearance of landmines and ERW from several residential districts of Aden previously controlled by Houthi forces, including Khormaksar, Jaulaa, and Green City in the Dar Saad neighborhood, and Bir Ahmad and Amran in al-Buraika. They said the clearance teams collected more than 140 mines on their first day in Amran. By 12 August 2015, the teams had removed 91 antipersonnel mines of two types from Aden as well as 666 antivehicle mines, 316 improvised explosive devices, and various grenades, shells, and fuzes. The officials also said that their vehicles, protective equipment, and supplies were all looted during the fighting in Aden.
Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 Compliance
Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the five-year extension granted in 2014), 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 2020. This is Yemen’s second extension to its Article 5 deadline and it is not on track to meet this new deadline.
Even before the renewal of major conflict in 2014, Yemen’s second extension request acknowledged that it was largely “based on speculation” and operations in 2014 fell well short of the extension request target of clearing 1.6km2 a year, hampered by insecurity and by an acute shortage of funds. The sharp escalation in conflict since late March 2015 has further limited the scope of operations in 2015, underscoring the need for Yemen to provide, when security circumstances permit, a new assessment of the scope of mine contamination and to map out a strategy for tackling it.
Five-year summary of mine clearance
Area cleared (km2)
As of December 2015, Yemen had not submitted its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report for 2014.
 Email from Mansour al-Azi, Director, YEMAC, 28 August 2011; and Human Rights Watch (HRW) Press Release, “Houthis Used Landmines in Aden,” 5 September 2015.
 First Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 2.
 Data presented in the extension request suggests that three governorates accounted for 87% of the total suspected area: Sadaa had 274 SHAs covering 115km2, Shabwah 11 SHAs covering 92km2, and Abyan 42 SHAs covering more than 87km2.
 Second Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 December 2013, p. 12.
 Email from YEMAC, 19 March 2014.
 Article 7 Report (for year to 31 March 2014), Form C.
 Email from Ahmed Alawi, Information Management System Officer, Operations Department, YEMAC, 20 May 2010.
 Article 7 Report (for year to 31 March 2012), Form I; Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 31 March 2013 to 31 March 2014), Form I; and Nasser Al-Sakkaf, “10 killed by landmine,” Yemen Times, September 2013.
 Joe Sheffer, “Revenge Landmines of the Arab Spring,” Foreign Policy, 24 May 2013; and Yemen Rights Foundation, “A report issued by the Yemen Rights Foundation about landmines that were previously used by members of the Republican Guard stationed in the military bases al-Sama and al-Fareeja in the valleys and mountains of Bani Jarmooz, Sanaa province, in 2011,” 10 April 2013; HRW Press Release, “Yemen: Investigate, Respond to Landmine Use Reports,” 27 May 2013. In April 2014, HRW reported that the landmines laid at Bani Jarmooz had killed at least two civilians and wounded 20 others since late 2011, including at least one dead and six wounded in the year since April 2013. The casualties all occurred in the vicinity of military camps that the 63rd and 81st Brigades of the Republican Guard established at Bani Jarmooz around 26 July 2011, and which remained in place as of September 2014. During an April 2013 visit, HRW did not observe any fencing or warning signs. HRW, “Memorandum to Mine Ban Treaty Delegates: Yemen’s Compliance with the Mine Ban Treaty,” 8 April 2014.
 “Yemen Initial Report to the President of the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties,” submitted by Kassem Ahmed al-Aggam, Chairman, National Mine Action Committee, 30 March 2014.
 Email from Ali al-Kadri, General Director, YEMAC, 20 March 2014.
 Article 7 Report, Form I, 31 March 2009.
 Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 2.
 Interviews with mine action stakeholders requesting anonymity, February−June 2015.
 Email from Ali al-Kadri, YEMAC, 20 March 2014.
 Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 3.
 UNDP, “Support to eliminate the impact from mines and ERW − Phase IV,” Project Document, 2013.
 UNDP, “Support to Eliminate the Impact of Mines and Explosive Remnants of War in Yemen, Phase IV, Annual Progress Report 2014,” undated but 2015, p. 7.
 YEMAC, “Work Plan of YEMAC for (Jan-Dec) 2014,” 24 November 2013, p. 10.
 Second Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 December 2013, p. 15; UNDP, “Support to Eliminate the Impact of Mines and Explosive Remnants of War in Yemen, Phase IV, Annual Progress Report 2014,” undated but 2015, p. 13.
 UNDP, “Support to Eliminate the Impact of Mines and Explosive Remnants of War in Yemen, Phase IV, Annual Progress Report 2014,” undated but 2015, p. 13.
 Al Aboluhom, “Landmine clearance remains difficult amid ongoing tension,” Yemen Times, 16 March 2015.
 UNDP, “Support to Eliminate the Impact of Mines and Explosive Remnants of War in Yemen, Phase IV, Annual Progress Report 2014,” undated but 2015, p. 12.
 Ibid., p. 13.
 Ibid., pp. 9 and 13.
 “Yemen Initial Report to the President of the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties,” submitted by Kassem Ahmad al-Aggam, Chair, NMAC, 29 March 2014.
 HRW Press Release, “Houthis Used Landmines in Aden,” 5 September 2015.
 Second Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 December 2013, p. 15.
 Compiled by NPA from data provided by YEMAC (2012−2013) and UNDP (2014). No results were reported for 2010 and 2011.