Int’l Report: Houthi Landmines Continue to Claim Lives, Livelihoods

Yemenis injured in a mine explosion. Photo: Mines In Yemen
Yemenis injured in a mine explosion. Photo: Mines In Yemen
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Int’l Report: Houthi Landmines Continue to Claim Lives, Livelihoods

Yemenis injured in a mine explosion. Photo: Mines In Yemen
Yemenis injured in a mine explosion. Photo: Mines In Yemen

Landmines laid by Houthi militias in Yemen continue to kill and cause serious injuries to civilians in areas where active hostilities have ceased and are preventing farmers from accessing their land, Human Rights Watch said this week.

“Houthi forces flouted the landmine ban for years and Yemeni civilians are paying the price as these weapons kill and wound indiscriminately,” said Human Rights Watch. “There is an urgent need to step up clearance of landmines to save lives, prevent unnecessary suffering, and ensure people can safely access their homes and livelihoods.”

The presence of uncleared landmines has had a devastating impact on residents of al-Shaqb, a village in Sabir Al-Mawadim district on the mountainous outskirts of Taizz city. Out of a few thousand residents—there has been no census since 2004—28 have been injured and six killed by landmines in the years immediately following a 2015 siege of Taizz and the surrounding areas.

Human Rights Watch researchers visited al-Shaqb in April 2024 and interviewed seven residents, including four landmine survivors, two people whose family members were killed by landmines, and al-Shaqb’s community leader. All four survivors have a permanent disability from their injuries. Everyone interviewed had been displaced from their homes to a nearby village.

Al-Shaqb is located in a valley between two mountain peaks, one controlled by the internationally-recognized Yemeni government (Mazaal Peak) and the other controlled by Houthi armed forces (Al-Saleheen Peak). While al-Shaqb is on a front line, most active fighting ceased several years ago, though snipers remain in the area and sporadically shoot at and sometimes kill civilians. Most recently, on March 23, residents said a Houthi sniper shot and seriously injured a child who was coming home from school.

Most of al-Shaqb’s residents, many of whom are farmers or herders, were displaced from their land earlier in the conflict. According to al-Shaqb's community leader, over 257 families have been displaced. With the decrease in active fighting in the past few years, several residents trying to return to their homes, tend to agricultural land, or graze their livestock have been killed or seriously injured by antipersonnel mines, and their animals have also been killed. Many of those injured have a permanent disability.

Several residents said that starting in 2018, Houthi forces began entering their land at night to place landmines in and around their homes and farmland.

One man interviewed said he was displaced from his home in 2016 due to the fighting. In August 2022, with the fighting reduced, he returned home to retrieve some wheat stored in his house. He stepped on what he said was a yellow bottle in front of the front door and the bottle exploded. He lost several fingers in the blast, which severely injured his leg, other body parts, and his eyes, leaving him with a permanent disability and scarring.

The landmines have also made it more difficult for villagers to feed themselves and maintain their incomes. According to the World Food Programme, as of February 2024, 64 percent of Taiz governorate’s population do not have sufficient food, and Taiz is one of four governorates in Yemen facing “high risk and deteriorating” food insecurity.

One woman interviewed said that a landmine killed her father when he returned to his farm in February 2021. She said that even though the farm was on the front line, her father and other agricultural workers continued to go there to farm because it was their source of income and that there were “only snipers” in the area. “He used to go to the valley every day to farm, and he had no idea there were landmines there,” she said.

Abdullah, a 35-year-old man, lost both his legs to a landmine in June 2022, when he took his goats to graze at a farm in the area. “I used to feed my goats in the same farm every two or three days,” he said. “It was my land and nobody lived there. My life became very difficult after the incident. I used to work as a driver and in other jobs, but I'm not working anymore, just sitting in the house.”



US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
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US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)

The United States military unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen's Houthi militants over their assaults on shipping in the crucial Red Sea corridor, authorities said Saturday, after one merchant sailor went missing following an earlier Houthi strike on a ship.
The attacks come as the US Navy faces the most intense combat it has seen since World War II in trying to counter the Houthi campaign — attacks the militants say are meant to halt the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
However, the Iranian-backed group assaults often see the Houthis target ships and sailors who have nothing to do with the war while traffic remains halved through a corridor vital for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Mideast.
US strikes destroyed seven radars within Houthi-controlled territory, the military's Central Command said. It did not elaborate on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
“These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.
The US separately destroyed two bomb-laden drone boats in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by the Houthis over the waterway, it said.
The Houthis, who have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge the strikes, nor any military losses. That's been typical since the US began launching airstrikes targeting the group.
Meanwhile, Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis that used a bomb-carrying drone boat to strike the vessel.
“The crew abandoned ship and were rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” Central Command said. The “Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.
The war in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.
“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” Central Command said. “The ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis in fact makes it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.”