Written By: Elena White
Article Date: Jun 25, 2012 - 8:58:36 PM
Very brief was Abyan’ sight of relief – southern province of Yemen – after al-Qaeda finally packed up its bags and left the region following a year of occupation, as its residents were left having to live in fear of landmines.
Officials told the Associated Press on Saturday that an estimated 35 people mostly civilians had been killed over the 10 days, bringing the matter of de-mining to the forefront of the news.
“Twenty-seven people have been killed only in the provincial capital of Zinjibar, while eight died on the outskirts of the town of Jaar,” the officials said.
“Landmine explosions in Zinjibar have left 27 people dead” since the army, backed by local militiamen, drove out Al-Qaeda militants from the capital of the province on June 13, said Zinjibar deputy mayor Ghassan Sheikh. Tragic incidents such as these make it impossible for IDPs – Internally Displaced People – to make the journey back to Abyan as the government cannot guarantee their safety.
More troubling yet, a local Sheikh warned that al-Qaeda militants had sown explosives throughout Zinjibar’s main streets, willingly endangering its residents.
Mohamed Rashid, a child protection specialist said that more children will be put at risk if the government allowed displaced families to come home without properly securing the area. “Given the lack of mine-maps and experts, more children will be at high risk if displaced families return home. Unlike adults, children are often unaware of the danger posed by landmines.
As in Yemen northern provinces of Sa’ada and Hajjah where landmines have become a serious issue following a mining frenzy ran by al-Houthis – Shiite rebel group – against Salafis – Sunni radical group – Abyan has become yet another danger zone.
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