Thousands of landmines have been left behind by Houthi fighters near the city of Mokha, including banned anti-personnel mines. Around 90% of the landmines are locally made while some Russian-made landmines were taken from a warehouse in Sana’a.
Human Rights Watch called on the Houthi last year to observe the 1997 Ottawa Convention ban on anti-personnel mines, which Yemen signed in 1998.
The results of landmine use can be seen in the hallways of the hospital in al-Mokha town, located not far north of the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, which were crowded with victims and visitors on a recent visit by Reuters.
Residents and medics from al-Mokha and nearby villages said landmines had caused more casualties than the fighting in the area, which has seen the Houthis pushed out of some Red Sea coastal areas since 2016.
The explosives were buried randomly across the region, including in residential areas, playgrounds and under trees where many Yemenis traditionally sit to chew the local mild narcotic qat leaves, they added.
It is not clear how many people have been killed by these weapons, but two doctors and a government official said dozens had died just in the coastal areas of al-Mokha, al-Khoukha and al-Heiss since Houthi forces started withdrawing in early 2017.
The UAE armed forces and Yemeni troops said they harvest between 250 and 300 landmines every week in the western region. More than 40,000 devices have been neutralized since coalition-allied forces took control of the Red Sea coast in a series of battles starting in 2016.