UN: Mines helped to cause 159 casualties in Yemeni city

CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations said Thursday that land mines and other unexploded ordnance caused some 159 casualties in a rebel-held city in Yemen in the past six months.

Yemen is in the grips of a bloody civil war that has pitted Iranian-allied Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition that backs the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

Ilene Cohn, director of the U.N.'s mine action service, said over 50% of the casualties in the port city of Hudaidah were women and children, and called for the acceleration of de-mining across Yemen. The U.N. did not disclose how many of the 159 incidents were fatal.

The figure refers to casualties caused by landmines and “explosive remnants of war,” a term that includes shells, grenades and other deadly devices left behind by a conflict.

Land mines have been laid across Yemen since the 1960s. However there has been a surge in the use of the devices since the civil war began in 2014. Houthi rebels have widely used land mines.

According to the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, Houthi land mines killed at least 122 people between 2016 and 2018.

“Due to the difficulty of obtaining accurate estimates, these figures are likely to make up a fraction of all mine detonations involving civilians in Yemen,” ACLED said in a 2018 report.

Saudi backed forces withdrew from the port of Hudaidah in 2021. The Houthi-controlled strategic city is one of the most heavily mined in Yemen.

Thousands of civilian deaths have also been blamed on Saudi-led airstrikes, which have hit markets, health facilities and weddings during Yemen's eight year conflict. The war has killed over 150,000 since 2014, including over 14,500 civilians.

On Tuesday, a U.N. convoy Cohn was traveling in was struck by landmines on the northern outskirts of Hudaidah. No one was hurt in the incident.