The eradication of landmines in Yemen could be completed by 2010 if the international community continues to provide extra funds for demining, officials said Monday.
"There are about 210,000 landmines believed to be still in the ground in Yemen," Christina Nelke of Save the Children Sweden said. "The situation is manageable and with better equipment landmines could be eradicated within 10 years."
"People are responding but we need more help," Nelke told AFP on the sidelines of a conference on landmines in the southern Yemeni city of Aden.
Nelke, author of the Landmine Monitor Report for Yemen, added that Sanaa had started the destruction of its stockpile of around 79,000 landmines and the process could be completed before the end of 2000 if more funds were made available.
US ambassador to Sanaa, Barbara Bodine, pledged continued American support for the program, which, she said, symbolized the developing relationship between the two countries.
"The amount the United States has provided to date is over six million dollars and we expect that level of support to continue for at least another two to three years," Bodine said.
"It is one of the most important and successful demining programs in the world," she said, adding that US support was used to train staff, provide vehicles and renovate logistical equipment.
Yemen's Cabinet Affairs Minister Mutahar al-Saidi, chairman of the National Demining Committee, stressed it was "very cheap to make mines but very expensive to demine them."
"We the Yemenis hope that the support will continue," Saidi said.
Prior to the unification of the south and north Yemens in 1990, both countries were engaged in armed conflicts during which anti-tank and anti-personnel mines were widely deployed.
Demining teams have so far discovered mines in 1,207 locations in 15 of Yemen's 19 governorates, while experts said they expected more areas to be added to the list.
Yemen signed the treaty outlawing landmines in 1997 and ratified it a year later, becoming the 34th country to do so.
According to the government, Yemen has never manufactured or exported anti-personnel mines, but imported thousands of them, primarily from the former Soviet Union, but also the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Italy -- ADEN (AFP)
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