Riyadh (UNA-OIC) � The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has launched the Saudi Humanitarian and Biological Demining Project (MASAM) to remove mines in Yemen, in the presence of a number of officials, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of international humanitarian organizations.
Advisor at the Royal Court and KSRelief Director General Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah disclosed that MASAM, which is being implemented by Saudi cadres and international expertise, aims to remove all types of mines planted by militias in random ways within the Yemeni territory.
He said the project also meant to help the people of Yemen to overcome the humanitarian tragedies caused by the spread of mines and to enable them to take responsibility in the long term.
"It is not disputed by any gentleman that Saudi Arabia has always, throughout its vast history, extended the bridges of good, support and noble humanitarian work to its neighbor countries as well as to friendly countries. In this way, it is achieving what the teachings of our Islamic religion call for," Al-Rabeeah said during the inauguration ceremony of the project in Riyadh on Monday.
The support of our brothers in Yemen has been at the top of the Kingdom's priorities for decades, he said while emphasizing the ties of neighborliness, religion, language as well as the social and family relations between the Saudi and Yemeni people.
He explained that KSRelief has played a major role in assisting the Yemeni people through the provision of 262 humanitarian relief projects, with a total cost of more than $1.6 billion, in terms of food, health, shelter, security, community support, education and other important relief programs.
Regarding the Saudi project for demining, Al-Rabeeah said: "The Saudi cadres and international expertise are working to remove all types of mines planted by the militias in random ways in the Yemeni territories, especially in the governorates of Marib, Aden, Sana'a and Taiz."
He pointed out that, to date, more than 600,000 mines have been counted in the areas liberated from the putschist militias, and 130,000 internationally banned anti-ship and anti-boat mines, in addition to 40,000 mines in Marib Governorate and 16,000 in Mayyun Island.
Al-Rabeeah explained that, according to reports released by the Yemeni government from December 2014 to December 2016, a total of 1,539 people were either killed or injured among a total of more than 3,000 people hit by mines. These include 615 death cases, including 101 children and 26 women, and 924 injuries, including 10 children and 36 women. Another 900 suffered total and permanent disabilities. In Taiz alone, there were 274 cases of amputations and permanent disabilities, including 18 cases of blindness.
The KSRelief chief noted that in just one year, the National Demining Program recorded a large number of mine casualties. He stated that the number of mine victims in the governorates of Aden, Lahj, Abyan and Taiz reached 418, while 1,775 other injuries were recorded in the same period. A total of 380 casualties and 512 injuries were recorded in both the governorates of Al-Jawf and Marib governorates.
Al-Rabeeah explained that 195 people, mostly children and women who had lost limbs to mines, were fitted with 305 prostheses at KSRielf Artificial Limbs Center in Marib Governorate. The Center provided the necessary treatment and rehabilitation for a large number of the wounded, whose ages ranged between 12 and 72 years.
In the past three years, he said, Saudi Arabia has offered more than $11 billion in aid to Yemen, including humanitarian assistance, refugee support services, development assistance to support Yemen's economy and Central Bank, among others.
For his part, Yemen's Foreign Minister Khalid Hussein al-Yamani, on behalf of the government and people of Yemen, thanked the Saudi government, saying: "Through the war they waged and as a result of their looting of state resources in the areas under their control, the Houthi putschists have caused a humanitarian catastrophe."
They seek, through the deterioration of humanitarian situation to achieve political goals and mobilize world opinion against the Arab coalition and the legitimate government in order to install the coup and impose the fait accompli, he added.
Al-Yamani underscored that mine planting is one of the means used by the Houthi militias to punish the Yemeni people and increase the suffering. He said that mine planting is in violation of the international humanitarian law and related conventions, including the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines.
The foreign minister added that the Houthi militias had invented new ways to use anti-vehicle mines and to divert their use against individuals in order to inflict maximum casualties among civilians, especially women and children, and even animals. He noted that the putschists created individual explosive, camouflaged and improvised mines with a variety of purposes and objectives, including Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices (RCIED), some of which come directly from Iran, as mentioned in the report of the Security Council Panel of Experts for 2017, while others were developed in Yemen by Iranian experts.
Al-Yamani pointed out that the preliminary statistics showed that the Houthi militias planted about one million mines in different parts of Yemen. He pointed out that marine mines may pose a major threat to international navigation in the Red Sea in the future, a matter which urgently requires huge international humanitarian efforts to remove these mines, clear Yemen's land and shores as well as neutralizing the danger and restoring the spirit of life to the Yemeni territory liberated from the grip of the Houthi militias.
In turn, Secretary General of the International Civil Defense Organization (ICDO) Dr. Vladimir Kuvshinov said: "The institutions in charge of providing assistance and protection to civilians must meet the expectations of the world and produce tangible results and conclusions on how to fight mines in Yemen and other countries."
He pointed out that it is no coincidence that Saudi Arabia, and through KSRelief, has contributed significantly to efforts focused on the protection of civilians and the alleviation of the physical and psychological suffering caused by mines.
"We in the International Civil Defense Organization � and in line with our mandate to work to protect communities from natural and man-made disasters � are ready to join efforts to improve the protection of civilians in Yemen from mine destruction," said Kuvshinov.
The event included the launch of an exhibition in which the ICDO chief presented for the first time a live mine clearance. The exhibition reviewed the most important achievements of demining and the installation of prostheses for victims.
The exhibition highlighted the efforts exerted by the KSRelief Artificial Limbs Center around the world. It also featured 50 live pictures of the staff, as well as documentary films on human suffering caused by mines.
Source: International Islamic News Agency