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RIYADH: Project Masam, a Saudi initiative to clear land mines in Yemen, in the last week of December dismantled 719 mines planted by the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

Overseen by the Saudi aid agency KSrelief, the project’s special teams destroyed 615 pieces of unexploded ordnance, 102 anti-tank mines, and two anti-personnel mines.

The explosives, which were planted indiscriminately by the Houthis across Yemen, posed a significant threat to the lives of innocent people, including children, women, and the elderly.

Project Masam is one of several initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia on the orders of King Salman to help the Yemeni people, clearing routes for humanitarian aid to reach the country’s citizens.

The demining operations took place in Marib, Aden, Jouf, Shabwa, Taiz, Hodeidah, Lahij, Sanaa, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale, and Saada.

A total of 426,809 mines have been cleared since the start of the initiative in 2018, according to Ousama Al-Gosaibi, the project’s managing director.

These include 269,865 items of unexploded ordnance, 142,557 anti-tank mines, 7,943 improvised explosive devices, and 6,444 anti-personnel mines.

The project trains local demining engineers and provides them with modern equipment. It also offers support to Yemenis injured by the devices.

Up to 5 million people are estimated to have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, many of them displaced by the presence of land mines on their land.

Masam teams are tasked with clearing areas such as villages, roads, and schools to facilitate the safe movement of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian goods and services.

The project’s contract was extended for another year in June 2023 at a cost of $33.29 million.

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