This International Mine Awareness Day, a look back at MASAM

By | Rachel Brooks

April 3, 2021 

Above image “Yemen” by Rod Waddington is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The King Salman Humanitarian and Relief Centre has orchestrated the MASAM project for Saudi Landmine clearance in Yemen. The project refers to its mission as being “toward an unrestricted humanity.” 

“Brutal crimes committed by the armed Houthi militias against the Yemeni people have been ongoing since the start of the conflict in their country,” the program describes its purpose. 

International Mine Awareness Day conference on Masam Program

 

“The militias have used various methods of violence to terrorize ordinary Yemeni citizens; the most dangerous of these is the indiscriminate planting of land mines and other explosive devices in populated areas throughout Yemen. Land mines have been found on farms, in crowded city streets and passageways, and along roadways.”

This project overview video published via YouTube on June 4, 2018, a few weeks before the official launch of MASAM. 

The project’s tagline was initially “life without landmines.”

 

The MASAM project noted that, despite entreaty from the international governments, the Houthi rebellion continues to ravage Yemen. The KSA established the human rights project to preserve basic “human dignity” to which the people of Yemen are entitled but have not received under the ravages of the Houthi extremist movement. 

MASAM described its mission objectives as follows: 

1- To address direct threats to the lives of the Yemeni people. 

2- To clear Yemen of land mines, which have claimed the lives of thousands of children, women, and the elderly. 

3- To train Yemeni cadres in demining techniques, thereby establishing a sustainable demining program for the future.

The mission has been active since June 2018, see Relief Web. At that time, the Saudi government released a report that noted the rate at which Houthis planted landmines. 

 

“Landmines are a major impediment to social and economic development efforts, exposing citizens to potentially fatal risk for generations to come. There have been more than 600,000 mines planted in the liberated areas by militias; 130 thousand internationally banned sea mines, 40,000 mines in Marib, and 16,000 mines in the island of Ma” wrote the Saudi government, in a report which was released on June 25, 2018. 

“The ongoing conflict has resulted in the manufacture and deployment of landmines by militias causing over 1,539 recorded deaths, injury for over 3,000, and permanent disability to over 900 Yemenis, a majority of whom are women, children, and the elderly. Unfortunately, these recorded figures are far less than the actual numbers as the national demining program has not been able to identify and register them. Such hostile action has also resulted in a wide array of other life-threatening crises and security concerns.” 

Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, KSrelief Supervisor, presented a press event describing the mission and purpose of MASAM on June 29, 2018. At this event, Dr. Al Rabeeah laid out the plans of the MASAM in five initial phases.

Phase one: Consultation, surveying, and coordination with local authorities.
· Phase two: Deployment and the initial execution on safe clearing of landmines.
· Phase three: Comprehensive clearing operations for landmine removals across at least six governorates of Yemen, including Sanaa, Marib, Aden, and Taiz.
· Phase four: Implementation of rapid-intervention teams to clear critical aid delivery infrastructure and emergency response situations.
· Phase five: Comprehensive operations management and ongoing delivery of phases three and four.,” stated MASAM, in a press release that initially appeared via AETOS wire. 

Dr. Al-Rabeeah described these phases in further detail.

“The use of landmines against the innocent people of Yemen has been a despicable blight on the lives of civilians and aid workers across the country. KSrelief and our partners at Dynashield, with the support of the Yemeni government, are committed to the safe and comprehensive removal of these devastating devices. Critically, this project will also clear aid delivery routes to ensure an unimpeded flow of humanitarian supplies. Our promise is a life without landmines for the people of Yemen,” said Dr. Al-Rabeeah.

The KSA noted at that date that projects funded by the King Salman Humanitarian Centre in Marib had already been providing the Yemeni public with prosthetic limbs. The MASAM project thus was a natural progression of goodwill toward eliminating the impact of the staggering rates of mine distribution. 

Nearly two years to the day after this report was released, Arab News reported a vast number of landmines cleared by the MASAM project. On June 14, 2020, Arab News reported that MASAM had removed 169,434 mines in Yemen as of the second week of June 2020. In the summer of 2020, KS Relief extended a Masam Contract for $30 million.