Norwegian People's Aid in place in Yemen
The United Nations has called Yemen “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis of our time”. The civil war that followed in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2011 has cost over 100,000 lives- driving four million people to flee and triggering the world's worst food crisis. Not least, years of warfare and air strikes have left huge amounts of explosives on the ground.
Enormous need for mine clearance
How severely affected by explosives is Yemen?
"There are huge quantities of explosives in Yemen. These stem from a number of armed conflicts stretching all the way back to the 1960s. While the exact scope of the explosives contamination remains unclear, we do know that the civil war has significantly exacerbated the problem. Large parts of the population live in areas where explosive weapons are located because much of the fighting has been in urban areas. This is everything from conventional and improvised land mines to cluster bombs and large aerial bombs. On top of this comes ammunition that is left behind after fights on the ground," Silje explains.
Will Norwegian People's Aid be clearing mines at any point?
"The humanitarian need for explosive clearance in Yemen is enormous. Mines and explosives pose a daily threat to the civilian population, and also make it difficult for organisations to provide emergency assistance. Therefore, when the situation permits, it will be natural to look into the possibilities of carrying out clearance activities", Sile says.
What will it take to do this?
"Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries, so in order to clear mines and explosives, they are firstly dependent on international donor funding", says Sile. "Moreover, in war zones such as Yemen, it is always a matter of security and access to areas. Coordination from the authorities is also a prerequisite. In Yemen, the conflict between the authorities that have been displaced to Aden, and the Houthis who have taken the capital, Sana'a, have effectively weakened and divided the mine-clearing authorities in two. In the south, YEMAC has opened an UN-backed coordination centre so that international organisations such as NPA can carry out activities. In the north of the country the YEMAC in Sana’a is also requesting assistance from the UN and international community. As a neutral humanitarian organisation, NPA aims to work on both sides of the conflict to alleviate the suffering of civilians affected by explosive weapons."