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Hundreds killed by Houthi landmines in Yemen

Deadly landmines are regularly discovered in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 April, 2017

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Human Rights Watch condemned the use of landmines by Yemen's Houthi rebels on Thursday, noting the group has killed and maimed hundreds of civilians during the two year conflict.

Yemen's Houthi rebels have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and prevented many of the displaced from returning to their homes, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday, decrying the group's use of deadly landmines across the war-torn country.

In a new report, Human Rights Watch said the rebels - who are allied with the forces of the country's former president - have used landmines in at least six provinces since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition launched its military campaign against them.

Steve Goose, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, said the Houthis and forces of Yemen's ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh "have been flouting the landmine ban at the expense of Yemeni civilians."

He added that Yemen had banned landmines two decades ago.

The Saudi-led coalition of mostly Arab countries waged a campaign to dislodge the Houthis, who seized Yemen's capital and some other areas in 2014 and forced the internationally-recognised government to flee the country.

Kristine Beckerle, an HRW researcher, said the rights group had found two types of anti-personnel mines previously unreported in Yemen, though she noted the Arab coalition had also used banned weapons.

"It's time to actually hold parties accountable, investigate and publicly report on what's going on," she said.

Beckerle spoke at a joint press conference on Yemen with Jamie McGoldrick, the UN human rights coordinator for the war-torn country, during a conference held in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

HRW also released a photo of one of a dozen claymore-type mines, which release steel balls to a distance of about 100 meters (yards), labelled in Chinese and found in areas that were held by Houthi forces.

At least 988 people were either killed or wounded by landmines in Yemen since 2015, according to figures by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines

The war in Yemen has killed about 10,000 civilians and displaced nearly 3 million people.

The Saudi-led coalition, which is backed by the United States, has also been facing accusations of war crimes after a series of bombardments of civilians - including hits on busy markets and also hospitals, schools, and residential areas.

McGoldrick warned that the Saudi-led coalition could soon attack Yemen's port of Hodeida on the Red Sea, a vital lifeline for most of the country's population, which depends on the port for food and medicine. Such an attack would displace up to 500,000 people and require humanitarian aid of between $35 million and $85 million, he added.

"We're on the knife's edge," McGoldrick said.

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