Children orphaned by Houthi land mines in Yemen

KHOKHA, YEMEN: For Imad and his sister Alia, life will never be the same after their father was killed by a land mine and they had to leave their endangered home in Yemen’s western Hodeida province.

The two children and their mother left Al-Dunain village and headed for shelter at Al-Waara camp in the Khokha district, about 30 km from the town of Hays.

Withdrawing Iran-backed Houthi militias had dotted the area with mines, their mother Fethiyeh Fartout said. And it was while her husband made his way to market that he was killed on a road riddled with land mines.

“The Houthis then told us to either leave the house or risk being killed,” she said. “I asked them, where can we go when the breadwinner of the family was killed by a land mine?”

For Fartout and her children there is no way to return home, even if they tried, said her father Jamal Fartout. “The Houthis planted land mines everywhere, and their explosives destroyed the roads. All the roads leading back to our home are lined with explosives.”

Human Rights Watch said in June that land mines in Yemen were hindering aid access and entrapping people. “Houthi forces have repeatedly laid anti-personnel, anti-vehicle and improvised mines as they withdrew from areas in Aden, Taez, Marib and, more recently, along Yemen’s western coast,” the group said. Land mines “will pose a threat to civilians long after the conflict ends.”

In June, Saudi Arabia launched a new project for land mine clearance in Yemen, but “land mines will remain a formidable challenge in the postwar era,” the Washington Institute said. 

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has produced evidence that Iran arms the Houthis with explosives and missiles.

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