A former Defence Forces general narrowly survived a bomb blast while travelling with a United Nations convoy in Yemen on Tuesday.
Major General Michael Beary commanded the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon before his retirement from the Defence Forces in 2018. In 2021, he took up the role of Head of the United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA), a civilian mission overseeing the fragile ceasefire in the country which has been wracked by eight years of civil war.
Mr Beary was travelling in a convoy of armoured UN vehicles in the Al Hali district of Hodeidah. They were travelled with members of the Houthi rebel group to oversee the destruction of decommissioning of explosives when the convoy hit a landmine.
It is understood the first vehicle in the convoy went over the mine but that it did not explode until the vehicle carrying Mr Beary travelled over it.
No one was injured in the blast, but the vehicle was extensively damaged. Images from the scene show a 4x4 with a rear wheel torn off.
It is understood armoured plating protected the occupants from injury.
Since the start of the Yemeni Civil War, many thousands of landmines have been scattered across the country. An investigation has begun to determine if the explosion was specifically targeted at the UN convoy.
“An UNMHA convoy struck what was assessed as a landmine during a visit to Al-Hali district today, damaging one vehicle,” the UN Missions said. “There were no casualties in the convoy. This incident is a reminder of the dangers that the people of Hudaydah face daily due to explosive remnants of war.
“UNMHA continues to call on the parties to take urgent and concrete measures to clear contaminated areas and reduce the devastating impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war on the civilian population, particularly women and children, who continue to be disproportionately affected.”
The convoy also contained several other officials, including Ilene Cohn, the director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, as well as their translators.
Minster for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney said he was “shocked” to hear that the convoy struck a landmine and damaged the vehicle carrying Maj Gen Beary.
“Although there were no casualties in the convoy, this incident is a reminder of the dangers that the people of Hudaydah face every day due to landmines and other explosive remnants of war,” he said in a statement.
He said the root of the humanitarian disaster in Yemen lies in conflict and Ireland “fully support the efforts of the UNMHA and of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to bring about a peaceful solution to this conflict”.
“I was disappointed that the truce agreement was not renewed in October and I urge all parties to the conflict to return to negotiations in good faith.”