Landmine victims in southern Yemen on the rise

News and Press Release
Originally published

Sanaa, 13 July 2012 – Concerted efforts by authorities and specialist organisations are urgently needed to prevent further casualties caused by landmines and unexploded ordnances in southern Yemen, says the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Over the past four weeks, staff at MSF’s emergency surgical centre in Aden have seen a sharp rise in the number of victims of landmines and unexploded ordnances from the towns of Jaar and Lawdar. MSF treated 19 patients in less than four weeks, eleven of whom were children under 14 years old.

“We received 10 cases last month, three of whom died from their injuries,” said MSF’s medical coordinator in Yemen, Dr. Claudia Lodesani. “Last week, a further 9 patients were referred to us from Abyan governorate, all were children, and many had life threatening injuries,” she added.

Most of these patients have sustained severe limb fractures that require emergency surgery and long-term rehabilitation. In some cases, patients’ lives have been irreversibly affected, such as 12-year-old Ahmed Jamal[1] from Jaar, whose injuries were so severe that both of his legs had to be amputated.

Hundreds of internally displaced families have returned to their homes in the southern towns of Jaar, Lawdar and Zinjibar since fighting subsided last month. But many areas have been contaminated with potentially fatal landmines and unexploded devices and there is inadequate public awareness about the need for residents to take precautions to avoid further casualties.

“These explosives pose an immediate and life threatening risk to communities, particularly children, who inadvertently play near mine-affected areas,” said Dr. Lodesani.

It is vital that residents take extra precautions to protect themselves and their families by staying clear of areas where landmines may be located and to alert the authorities in instances when suspicious devices are found.

Despite the ongoing efforts of national and local authorities to demine these areas and educate communities, MSF is concerned that without more support from the international community and specialist organisations, it is likely that the number of casualties will continue to rise.

MSF is a private international humanitarian organisation providing emergency medical aid in more than 65 countries worldwide to populations that suffer from the effects of armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care or natural disasters.

MSF has been working in Yemen since 1986 and continuously since 2007. In addition to the governorates of Aden, Ad-Dhali, Abyan and Al-Baydha, the organisation conducts surgical and medical activities in the governorates of Amran and Hajjah in the north of the country. In Yemen, MSF does not accept funding form any government and chooses to rely solely on private donations.

For more information or for interviews, please contact Sandra Smiley, MSF UK Press Officer, on +44 7889 178 472.

[1] Patient’s name has been changed to maintain confidentiality.