Deminers. Life journey amid death

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Deminers. Life journey amid death

Mabkhout Alhanishi, one of the Yemenis who volunteered to remove the mines planted by al-Houthi in the capital, Sana'a, during its control operations three years ago.


A life-safety journey by Alhanishi and other volunteers, amidst death lurking every second, because they lack the necessary equipment and sometimes the required expertise in such difficult tasks.

Mabkhout was not an expert on a mission that required expertise and specialization but risked dismantling the mines planted, putting his life at stake with each operation.


Mabkhout, 65, spoke in an interview with Anadolu agency, about a unique experience of de-mining in the town of "shaking" four years ago, over the bloody war between government forces and al-Houthi.


At the beginning of 2015, when al-Houthi took control of Sanaa (still under their control), Mabkhout was forced to leave his home in Jabal Yam- Nehm east of the capital Sanaa.

When he returned to it the beginning of the following year, the Houthi had planted hundreds of mines in his area in anticipation of an attack by government forces.


"Mined land", as he says, has caused sheep to die and threatens people's lives, prompting the Mabkhout to try to get rid of those buried packages that destroy life every inch.


As for his story, which he puts every day in a new challenge with death, Mabkhout said: "I had no experience in mine clearance, but the necessity forced me to practice this profession."


"At first, I was throwing bullets at them, or hitting them with stones to detonate them, before I gained limited experience in their types and methods of disposal," he said.

Field experience has given Mabkhout the tools to deal with mines more professionally, as he is able to differentiate between their different types.


Also, he tested the ways to neutralize them either by defusing the explosion or by cutting the wires in case they are attached to them.


Over the days, about experts had become a de-mining expert even in the eyes of the citizens of his region, where women and girls were prevented from herding sheep and going to fetch water through the roads that have not yet been explored, the people of his village now ask for his advice and do not take a path they were not allowed to.


An extraordinary "professional" march of a man who chose the path of death to banish his ghost from the citizens of his region, but his valor cost him two injuries from mines.


The first was when he threw a mine in the fire to detonate it, but was delayed to lie down on the ground, he was hit by shrapnel under his eyes, which was quickly removed.


The second incident occurred in April when he was exploring a minefield and did not pay attention to one of them, causing him to be hit by shrapnel in his feet, which prevented him from moving through the cutting of some nerve.

Despite the "tax" he paid, Mabkhout expressed his commitment to his work, promising to return to his practice as soon as he recovered from his injuries.


overall, Mabkhout said that the sum of 300 mines had been removed and detonated, while in return there was no support from government forces in his country, either in terms of financial return or support with the required tools and equipment.

Not far from Alhanishi, a 20 years old youth stood by to lead a demining team from the "Alkanthaa Block" that the Yemeni army had recently controlled between the governorates of "Albydha" and "Shabwah" (east).


The young man looks to the mine, Abdullah Maznan al-Harthi, appeared on the ground before being lifted by his brother Tariq, on a demining team of the 19th Brigade of the Yemeni army.


Despite the fact that Abdullah had been trained for 20 days, the devices he owned and his team had "failed them" one day and did not find a mine, which had led to his detonation and the amputation of his brother's leg.


In an interview with Anadolu, Abdullah said: «I do almost daily sweepings of our region of the Directorate of the Osilan in Shabwah from the mines left by al-Houthi following the liberation of the province late last year. "

He pointed out that the hardware they were working with was not good, and exposed them to a lot of risks as he had with his brother.


Despite the challenges, Abdullah stressed his continuing work, saying that he would sacrifice himself to save people from his own region. Of the threat of life-threatening mines, especially since those buried containers have reaped the lives of many members of the Directorate, he said.


Since he started more than a year ago, Abdullah has removed more than 400 mines of various kinds and sizes, most of which have been detonated and disposed of.


According to Abdullah, many engineering teams visited his area and confirmed that they were free of mines, but he still extracted daily mines from some areas, it also prevents residents from passing or approaching some sites until they are cleared of mines.


He called on his country's forces to cooperate with them and provide them with modern equipment that would enable them to carry out their work and protect them from the dangers of war-left mines.


The situation is not very different for government forces compared to Mabkhout, Abdullah and other de-mining volunteers, the limited capacity and lack of support are an impediment to specialized military teams in this matter.


Colonel Saleh Turaiq, head of the engineering division of the third Military region of the government forces, said there is a weak capacity in of the division, in addition to the leniency of the officials on demining and the lack of substantial support for the operations, significantly hamper their work.

"Turaiq" to Anadolu added that the engineering team had disarmed some 34,000 mines, a container and a missile from the governorates of Marib and Shabwah.


His team was "very small and does not perform all the tasks, in addition to the fact that more than 25 individuals were injured during the demining operations and some limbs were amputated, as well as six members of his engineering team were killed."


The Colonel pointed out that the more easily the mine industry is, the Houthi makes it from raw materials available on the market, such as agricultural fertilizers and so on.


According to the same source, "it is a very important to for big demining teams ", especially since the area cleared in the governorate of Marib does not exceed 50% of the mined areas.


Late June, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani said the preliminary statistics indicate that the al-Houthi Militia planted about 1 million mines in various parts of Yemen.


"Since the beginning of 2018, the National Mine Action Program (the government) has removed more than 282,319 mines, containers, and remnants of war," Yamani Minister said in media statements.


He noted that the figures for mine victims between March 2015 to the same month in 2018 indicated that more than 1194 people had been killed and 2287 injured, most of them civilians.


He pointed out that, among the victims, 216 were children and 72 were women, while the Taiz Governorate is the top of the list of victims of the Houthi mines.

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