Yemen Confirms Use of Antipersonnel Mines in serious violation of Mine Ban Treaty
The 13th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty opened today in Geneva amid controversy over allegations of recent use of antipersonnel mines by Yemen.
In a statement made on behalf of the current Prime Minister, Yemen publicly acknowledged that the previous regime of President Ali Abduallah Saleh used landmines in 2011. The government is taking measures to act on the use of mines in Bani Jamooz and the military has initiated mine clearance, it said.
Yemen’s confirmed use of landmines is the most serious breach of the Mine Ban Treaty since it came into effect 14 years ago. The announcement comes one day after a 12-year-old Yemeni boy was killed by stepping on a landmine, a tragic reminder of the urgency to prevent further harm from the use of these weapons.
The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor has recorded a dramatic rise in Yemeni casualties from landmines in 2012, with over 260 new casualties reported. According to Human Rights Watch, Yemeni Republican Guards laid several thousand antipersonnel mines around Bani Jamooz, north of Sana’a, in 2011.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), of which NPA is a core member organization, urged states to take this violation with the utmost degree of seriousness and importance, including through the use of the treaty’s compliance mechanism if necessary. Yemen must also act immediately to prevent any more casualties and urgently take measures to clear the mines and assist victims, it said.
Governments present in Geneva should respond by condemning the use of antipersonnel mines by Yemen, which is a State Party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of these weapons. Yemen reported the completion of destroying its entire stockpile of antipersonnel mines in 2007.
During the Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty this week, governments, UN organizations, and civil society members of the ICBL will report on progress made in 2012 to implement the treaty’s obligations, including landmine clearance, stockpile destruction, and victim assistance.