At the Training Centre of the Yemeni Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) in Aden, we meet a group of 60 young people. Having recently joined the Yemeni Mine Action Coordination Center (YMACC), they are being trained on Non-Technical Survey (NTS) of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs); a serious threat in Yemen that claimed 347* casualties in 2020 in the war-torn country.
For the first time, there are 10 women among the 60 trainees. With these vital new skills, trainees will be able to provide reliable information about the exact whereabouts of mines and unexploded ordnances in contaminated areas.
Among the women participating in the training, we met Marina. A business and accounting graduate, she realized her preference for working outdoors and desire to support her community’s safety. She knows she wants to contribute to the clearance of dangerous explosive from their lands. "I have learned how to protect myself and my community from mines," she explains. "Many in society do not realize the danger of mines and deal with them as if they do not pose a threat to their lives and the lives of those next to them."
"This training will allow us to go into homes and collect more accurate information about the presence of mines from the women in rural areas. There are many women working in sheep herding and some fetching water by walking to remote areas who are aware of the existence of such risks," describes Marina.
"Certainly, 10 women is not enough. The need is very big…but 10 women is also a good start," she continues.
The NTS training, supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and implemented by The Development Initiative (TDI), covers both theoretical and practical work.
"During the past four years, I came to realize that society needs to know more about the dangers of mines, because our work does not cover all areas, and the need is great. Contaminated areas are scattered everywhere," explains Basita, another participant, and four-year veteran working in the Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) field for national and international humanitarian organizations. "I have seen many mine and UXO incidents, where some lost a limb and others unfortunately lost their lives.”
“Despite my good experience, I have benefited a lot from this training. Now I can teach people about the different types of mines and missiles, precisely locate contaminated areas, warn people not to approach them, write reports and testimonies, and teach people about proper reporting mechanisms if mines are discovered in their area," says a confident Basita.
At the end of the training, participants received certificates of completion from UNDP and YEMAC. The trainees are eager to start their work gathering information on mines and UXOs in conflict-affected areas and warning people of their dangers – ultimately saving lives.
These activities were completed through UNDP Yemen’s Mine Action Project. The project aims to use both prevention and response measures including risk education, assistance to victims and explosive ordnance survey and clearance operations to help ensure a safer Yemen for all. It also helps to improve skills and abilities within the National Mine Action Committee (NMAC), the Yemeni Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC), and the Yemen Mine Action Co-ordination Centre (YMACC), so that they can better protect people and communities.