Mine Action

Last updated: 15 November 2016

Contaminated by: landmines (heavy contamination), cluster munition remnants (medium contamination), and other unexploded ordnance.

Article 5 deadline: 1 March 2020
(Not on track to meet the deadline

Not a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions 

The escalation of conflict after March 2015 has resulted in further mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination while at the same time halting systematic mine clearance operations and disrupting prospects for implementing plans set out in the Republic of Yemen’s second Article 5 deadline extension request.

Recommendations for action 

  • The Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC) should draw up a plan for the resumption of mine clearance, setting out priorities for survey and clearance.
  • YEMAC should increase survey and clearance capacity.
  • YEMAC teams should be trained in and apply land release methodologies.


Mine contamination 

Yemen is contaminated with mines from conflicts in 1962–1969 and 1970–1983, the mines that were laid in border areas between North and South Yemen before they unified in 1990, and those used in successive conflicts that erupted since 1994.[1] Mine contamination resulted from the 2010 insurgency in northern Saada governorate led by Abdul Malik al-Houthi[2] and the 2011 insurgency around southern Abyan by militants belonging to Ansar al-Sharia, linked to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[3] YEMAC reported that insurgents in Saada had laid improvised mines, later clearing some but missing others.[4] In 2011, under former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s Republican Guard reportedly laid thousands of mines in the Bani Jarmoz area near Sana’a. 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.[5] The UN said mines were laid in the conflict that escalated in March 2015 in areas controlled by Houthi rebels and associated forces.[6] (See Yemen’s Mine Ban profile for further details.)

The extent of Yemen’s contamination is not known. Yemen’s second Article 5 deadline extension request, submitted in December 2013, stated that 107 mined areas covering some 8km2 were confirmed to contain antipersonnel mines, with 438 suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) covering a further 338km2.[7] It added it had still to survey the governorates of Amran, Hajjah, and Sana’a.[8] Yemen’s most recent Article 7 transparency report, for the year to the end of March 2014, claimed that 20 of Yemen’s 21 governorates are affected by antipersonnel and antivehicle mines and estimated contamination at almost 433km2. Most of the remaining areas were in Abyan, Ibb, and Saada governorates.[9] 

Cluster munition and other ERW contamination 

Yemen was contaminated with ERW, including cluster munition remnants, before 2015, but since the start of the latest conflict on 26 March 2015 the UN has confirmed that intensive air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition have significantly increased contamination and the threat to the civilian population.[10]

YEMAC reported in 2014 it had identified some 18km2 of suspected cluster munition hazardous areas in the northern Saada governorate bordering Saudi Arabia, but also knew of other areas of contamination in northwestern Hajjah governorate that it had not been able to survey.[11] Since the start of the latest round of hostilities in March 2015, international observers and researchers reported that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s land and aerial bombardments using a variety of cluster munitions had struck many areas of northwestern Yemen. YEMAC has identified heavy cluster munition contamination in Saada governorate as well as additional cluster munition contamination in Amran, Hodeida, Mawit, and Sanaa governorates[12] (see Yemen’s Cluster Munition Ban policy profile for further details). 

Program Management

A National Mine Action Committee (NMAC) is responsible for formulating policy, allocating resources, and developing a national mine action strategy.[13] It is chaired by the Minister of State (a member of the Cabinet), and brings together representatives of seven concerned ministries. The government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi was driven from power in Yemen in February 2015 and moved to Saudi Arabia, putting future mine action institutional arrangements into question.

YEMAC was established in Sanaa in January 1999 as NMAC’s implementing body, with responsibility for coordinating mine action in the country.[14] It is supported by a Regional Executive Mine Action Branch (REMAB) and a national training center in Aden along with another REMAB in al-Mukalla (Hadramout governorate). REMABs are responsible for field implementation of the national mine action plan.

Escalating political turmoil and conflict in Yemen since 2014 together with lack of funding have severely impaired YEMAC’s abilities to discharge its responsibilities.[15] YEMAC became two de facto organizations split between the southern city of Aden, controlled by the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen’s internationally recognized but exiled government, and the capital Sana’a, under the control of the Houthi. Heavy fighting between the two in 2015 severely hampered communications and coordination between YEMAC’s headquarters and its Aden branch.[16] From Sana’a, YEMAC planned to undertake operations in 2016 in five governorates of central and north Yemen (Amran, Hajjah, Sana’a, Saada, and Taiz), depending on security. YEMAC Aden sub-office planned operations in Abyan, Aden, Al Bayda, Lahej, and Taiz, and in and around Mukulla in Hadramout.[17]

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) provides an international technical advisor to work with NMAC and YEMAC to help develop a national strategy, set priorities, and define national standards under a four-year program agreed in 2013 and due to run until the end of February 2017. The project has two national staff in Sana’a and one each in Aden and Saada.[18]

Strategic planning 

Yemen’s 2013 request for a second five-year extension to its Article 5 deadline 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. The request called for total expenditure of more than US$65 million over the five years, equivalent to more than $13 million a year, compared with average annual expenditure of less than $2 million over the past five years.[19] These targets, however, were overtaken by the escalating turmoil in 2014 and the conflict that erupted at the end of March 2015.

Yemen has no strategic plan for tackling cluster munition remnants.

Deminer safety 

YEMAC acknowledges that its deminers and explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) personnel are not trained or equipped to deal with cluster munition remnants, an issue highlighted by the death of three personnel in a submunition incident in Hajjah governorate in May 2016.[20]

Land Release

YEMAC conducted some emergency spot clearance in 2015, but conflict and lack of funds disrupted operations and no systematic mine survey and clearance took place. Emergency operations were conducted by small, mobile teams in Sana’a and Amran, focusing on clearing unexploded ordnance in and around schools. Engineers serving with the Saudi-led coalition are also reported to have undertaken some mine clearance, for example at Aden’s Khormaksar airport. Legacy minefields were not considered a priority.[21]

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.[22] 

YEMAC’s activities started to acquire funding and some momentum, recording clearance of 33,888m2 in the first half of 2016, most of it in May and June. However, for maximum impact teams focused on small, high-threat spot tasks close to populated areas. In addition, teams were aiming to clear abandoned explosive ordnance and old stockpiles to prevent harvesting. Legacy minefields were not a priority.[23] 

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 will not meet this new deadline.

Yemen’s second extension request acknowledged from the outset 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.[24] The sharp escalation in conflict after March 2015 has halted systematic mine clearance and reduced YEMAC to emergency clearance of mostly ERW and not mines.

Mine clearance in 2011–2015[25]


Area cleared (km2)













Note: N/R = Not reported


The Monitor gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review supported and published by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which conducted mine action research in 2016 and shared it with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.

[1] Email from Mansour al-Azi, Director, YEMAC, 28 August 2011.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for year to 31 March 2010), Form I.

[4] Article 7 Report (for year to 31 March 2012), Form I.

[5] “Yemen Initial Report to the President of the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties,” submitted by Kassem Ahmed al-Aggam, Chairman, National Mine Action Committee (NMAC), 30 March 2014.

[6] “Situation of human rights in Yemen,” Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, A/HRC/33/38, 4 August 2016, p. 10.

[7] Data presented in the extension request suggests that three governorates accounted for 87% of the total mined area: Saada had 274 SHAs covering 115km2; Shabwah, 11 SHAs covering 92km2; and Abyan, 42 SHAs covering more than 87km2.

[8] Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 December 2013, p. 12.

[9] Article 7 Report (for year to 31 March 2014), Form C.

[10] UN Development Programme (UNDP), “Grant Progress Report for the period 1 October 2015–31 December 2015,” 25 January 2016.

[11] Email from Ali al-Kadri, General Director, YEMAC, 20 March 2014.

[12] Interview with Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 17 February 2016.

[13] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form I, 31 March 2009.

[14] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 2.

[15] Interviews with mine action stakeholders requesting anonymity, February−June 2015.

[16] Interviews with Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, and Stephen Bryant, Chief Technical Adviser, UNDP, in Geneva, 17 February 2016; and UNDP, “Support to eliminate the impact from mines and ERW − Phase IV, Annual Progress Report 2014,” undated but 2015.

[17] Email from Stephen Bryant, UNDP, 5 October 2016.

[18] Ibid., 31 July 2016.

[19] Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 December 2013, p. 15; and 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.

[20] Interviews with Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, in Geneva, 17 February 2016; and with Stephen Bryant, UNDP, in Geneva, 19 May 2016.

[21] Interviews with Ahmed Alawi, YEMAC, 17 February 2016; and with Stephen Bryant, UNDP, in Geneva, 17 February and 19 May 2016; and “Grant Progress Report, Q4 2015,” UNDP, received by email from Stephen Bryant, UNDP, 25 May 2016.

[22] HRW Press Release, “Houthis Used Landmines in Aden,” 5 September 2015.

[23] Email from Stephen Bryant, UNDP, 31 July 2016.

[24] Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 December 2013, p. 15.

[25] Compiled by Mine Action Review from data provided by YEMAC (2012−2013) and UNDP (2014). No results were reported for 2010 or 2011.