LANDMINE CRISIS IN YEMEN BRINGS LEADING FIGURES TO CAPITOL HILL IN A GLOBAL CALL FOR ACTION

 

June 13, 2019

 

LANDMINE CRISIS IN YEMEN BRINGS LEADING FIGURES TO CAPITOL HILL IN A GLOBAL CALL FOR ACTION

(Group will also be joined by landmine Canine Ambassador “Yankee”)

 

With the war in Yemen now in its fourth year, and over 1000 civilians killed by landmines in the country,  the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen, in partnership with Nobel Laureate Jerry White: landmine survivor and chair of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery Ken Rutherford; Elana De Lozier of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy;  and Perry Baltimore of the Marshall Legacy Institute,  announced it will hold a briefing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, June 13th to focus on the global landmine crisis.

 

Spurred on by the devastating impact of landmine use during the ongoing war in Yemen (believed to be at a concentration as high as any other country since World War II), Yemen’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr Ahmed Bin Mubarak said, “The time is now for responsible leaders from around the world to come together and say ‘enough is enough’ in regards to the construction and planting of landmines. Innocent civilians have suffered enough. This briefing is meant to serve as a call to action – a plea to the international community, asking that we put aside our differences in support of the greater good”

 

Since the crisis in Yemen began, the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor says there have been over 9,000 casualties in the country.  Casualties sustained from landmines often cause severe economic difficulties for victims and their families. A mine itself costs around $3 to $30, while medical care to those injured in developing nations costs around $3,000.

 

In making the announcement about the briefing Nobel Laureate and landmine survivor Jerry White said, “I am horrified by the war which must stop and the proxy fighting and mines, devastation and famine.” James Madison University’s Ken Rutherford, also a landmine survivor, will brief about the impact of landmine use around the world as well as his  work in Yemen on this issue.

 

Also making a Capitol Hill appearance is landmine Canine Ambassador “Yankee,” of The Marshall Legacy Institute, who will be joined by their President Perry Baltimore. Their organization donates highly trained landmine detection dogs to mine-affected countries and trains local handlers to safely use these dogs to find landmines. They work in 16 countries around the world, including Yemen.

The United Nations states around 2,000 individuals per month are killed or injured by landmines around the world.  Since 1993, the United States has contributed more than $3.4 billion to more than 100 countries around the world to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war, and has invested more $37.5 million in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) activities in Yemen since then.

 

In making the announcement about the upcoming Capitol Hill briefing, Yemen’s Ambassador to the United States Dr Ahmed Bin Mubarak said,  “What is happening in Yemen is nothing short of a humanitarian disaster – yet, stunningly enough, it has remained absent from national and international headlines. From Yemen and Somalia to Iraq and Angola, too many lives have been lost to landmines – these mines kill indiscriminately, instigating terror today and fear in the future. Long after any conflict ends, landmines ensure proper healing never takes place, and true peace is never attained. They are flagrant reminders of the pains of the past and reopen the wounds of war and conflict for generations to come.

Press Release: On the Houthis Pervasive & Deliberate Diversion of Humanitarian Aid in Yemen.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.,

May 20, 2019

The Embassy of the Republic of Yemen today calls upon the United Nations to make public the true scope of aid diversion from Yemeni civilians, after a CNN investigation found new evidence of the widespread culpability of the Iran-backed Houthis in stealing and misusing humanitarian assistance. Today’s warning from the World Food Programme that it will suspend aid in Houthi-controlled areas suggests the scale of Houthi aid diversion is much greater than previously thought.

“The world cannot stand by while the Iran-backed Houthis starve innocent Yemenis for political purposes,” Dr. Ahmed BinMubarak, Yemen’s Ambassador to the United States, said. “Houthi abuse of humanitarian assistance has been repeatedly documented by aid groups and international media, and this new CNN investigation presents even more condemning evidence. The U.N. to make clear the real scope of Houthi aid diversion, and the international community should make guaranteed aid access a precondition of any engagement with the Houthis.”

The CNN undercover investigation found the Houthis have diverted food and other aid supplies on a far greater scale than what the United Nations previously has reported. The probe showed how the Houthis have diverted critical supplies from starving children and malnourished civilians in favor of feeding their soldiers.

The findings corroborate U.N. allegations last year that the Houthis deliberately blocked aid deliveries and used famine as a political weapon against citizens living in Houthi-controlled areas. While the U.N. has estimated that only 1 percent of all aid was going missing in Yemen, the new CNN investigation suggests the aid theft is far more pervasive.

The Houthis have a history of imposing severe restrictions on humanitarian workers in their territory, which include stealing and diverting aid supplies to benefit Houthi soldiers or to sell on the open market. The Houthis also use humanitarian aid to buy political support, rewarding what the U.N. calls “non-deserving populations” if they pledge to fight while punishing tribes, civilians and extremely vulnerable groups that only wish to remain neutral.

The Embassy of the Republic of Yemen categorically rejects the excuses of Houthi representative Hussin Al-Ezzi, who told CNN: “Mistakes happen sometimes.” Intentionally stealing aid meant to reach the most vulnerable civilians to feed militant groups or reward the corrupt can never be shrugged off as “mistakes.” These are horrific crimes against the Yemeni people.

“The Houthi leadership admits that they treat civilians as ‘capital’ for the war, to be fed or starved as they see fit to advance their political interests,” Ambassador BinMubarak said. “This famine is not a ‘mistake.’ The Houthis are deliberately starving Yemenis and blocking legitimate organizations such as the World Food Programme because they think it will tighten their hold on power.”

Last year, the World Food Programme (WFP) assessed seven districts in Houthi-controlled Sana’a and found some 60% of people had not received any aid. The shortfall was not a reflection of lack of supplies. It was a reflection of a Houthi fraud.

In recent months, the Houthis also blocked WFP access to grain supplies that could have fed millions of Yemenis. As Jonathan Cohen, the acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said: “Only the Houthis are blocking access to the mills… And they alone will be to blame if the food spoils.”

Today, we learned that the WFP is considering the suspension of aid in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, a remarkable warning from the UN program.  According to WFP, the Houthis have denied access to aid workers, blocked aid convoys, and interfered with aid distribution. The Houthis continue to place obstacles placed in the way of WFP’s independent selection of beneficiaries and a request for a roll out of a biometric registration system. Unfortunately, Houthi leaders have “broken assurances” given to WFP, and negotiations have yielded no tangible solutions.