Safe return of displaced people at risk due to landmines in Yemen

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The safe return of displaced people in Yemen is at risk because of landmines and other explosive remnants of war, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Thousands of people are returning to their homes in southern Yemen after government forces reclaimed most of the territory that has been controlled by a group affiliated to Al Qaeda fought. OCHA spokesperson, Jens Laerke says that approximately 140,000 displaced have returned to Abyan Governorate.

"More than three out of four of this group of people depended on agriculture for their livelihoods. Now, clearing agricultural land is therefore critical to ensure their sustainable return. While most urban areas, connection roads and public areas have been cleared of explosive remnants of war, most agricultural land is still contaminated. Operations for clearance are on-going in five out of 15 districts in northern Sa'ada Governorate and eight out of 11 districts in Abyan in the south." (29")

OCHA says the work started through the non-governmental organization known as the Yemen Mine Action Programme which is the dominant implementing partner in collaboration with the United Nations.

According to the agency the programme has so far destroyed more than 2, 600 improvised explosive devices, over 4,000 unexploded ordnance such as artillery shells.

However, OCHA warns that the operations are in danger of being delayed by a budget shortfall of close to $8 million.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.
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