RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, April 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) today joined the United Nations in observing the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 2019, which aims to raise awareness and prompt action to reduce the humanitarian and socio-economic threats posed by mines and explosive remnants of conflict. KSrelief has also pledged to increase its efforts to remove landmines in Yemen, where it has already dismantled more than 50,000 mines laid by the Iran-backed Houthi militia.
"Today and every day, KSrelief is committed to working with our partners at the UN and others around the world to counter the threat landmines pose to the safety, health and lives of innocent civilians," said Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of KSrelief and adviser to the Saudi Royal Court. "This awareness and action are especially critical in Yemen, the most-mined nation since World War II, saturated today with explosives buried by the Houthis that have killed and harmed thousands, and threaten countless more."
With material and technical support from Iran, the Houthis have repeatedly violated UN rules since 2015, scattering as many as one million land and sea mines across the country, causing more than 1,539 deaths and injuring more than three-thousand.
To counteract this threat, KSrelief launched in June 2018 the Saudi Project to Dismantle Mines in Yemen (MASAM), which has since removed more than 50,000 mines in the country, including more than 5,000 mines in February 2019 and another 6,000 in March.
"MASAM also strives to empower the Yemeni specialists on the ground with the skills and resources necessary to clear these landmines themselves," Dr. Al-Rabeeah added.
MASAM is part of Saudi Arabia's broader, ongoing effort to safeguard the lives of innocent Yemeni citizens through a variety of KSrelief initiatives, including a separate program to rehabilitate child soldiers recruited by the Houthis. Elsewhere, the Centre has provided humanitarian support to a total of 44 countries since its establishment in May 2015, with Yemen ranking among the top KSrelief beneficiaries, receiving 61.37 percent of relief aid.
Last month, on the sidelines of the 2019 Pledging Conference on Yemen in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Al-Rabeeah met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, to discuss means of enhancing cooperation and strategic partnership between KSrelief and the UNHCR. Following the meeting, High Commissioner Grandi praised the Kingdom for its generous commitment to Yemen's humanitarian response plan, and to alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people.