Broadly speaking the area west of Cairo (El Qahira) was contaminated as a result of hostilities between 1940 and 1943 involving Britain and its allies (including Egyptian forces) fighting German and Italian forces for control of North Africa. The areas to the east, including the Sinai Peninsula were contaminated between 1956 and 1973 due to hostilities between Egypt and Israel.
Minefields have been reported along the Red Sea coast, and formerly mined areas along the Israeli border and military strong points in the Eastern Sinai will need to be carefully checked.
Total: 7617 696 8313
Our reasons for not signing the ban treaty have been stated in various international forums.
Arguments include that the treaty does not take into account "the legitimate security and defense concerns of countries, particularly those with extensive territorial borders" which need landmines to protect against terrorist attacks and drug traffickers. In addition, we continue to voice concern at "a lack of financial and technical incentives" to help the country deal with its landmine problem.
Germany has provided Egypt's mine clearance efforts with metal detectors and protective clothing while the United Kingdom has given $145,189 in mine clearance funding and equipment. The United States Humanitarian De-mining Program has allocated $1.5 million. Italy has provided de-mining training.
The Egyptian Army has been involved in de-mining efforts since the end of World War Two. Egypt has four military national de-mining battalions of 480 troops; "millions of dollars each year" are budgeted for mine clearance. To date, supposedly 120,000 hectares of land have been cleared, removing a total of 12 million landmines.
The Minister of Planning and International Cooperation heads the committee. More peculiar, four mine-affected cities or governorates were not included in the committee, namely Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, the Red Sea. It is also baffling that the only NGO engaged in mine action in Egypt (Landmines Struggle Center) were not included in the committee.
Appeals to Britain and Italy have yielded little assistance so far. Germany has been more generous: in 1998 the German government provided about 100 modern detectors (Föster 4400) and is currently offering to try the 'Mine Breaker' machine in the Western Desert. The US government has contributed US$500,000 in 1999 for some equipment such as mine rollers, and training.
Furthermore, the Army engineers see most minefield problems in terms of detection. They need better ways to detect and locate mines and UXO in deep sand and mud. Accidents are also a problem, and sometimes occur while using metal detectors.
* (alphabetically) Courtesy of:
- Duncan Green, CAFOD Policy Papers, the Ottawa Treaty, U.K.
- Egyptian State Information Service, Egypt
- Klaus Daerr, Sahara Overland, Germany
- James Trevelyan, University of W. Australia, Australia
- Landmine Monitor, International
- Landmine Watch, International
- New Internationalist magazine, USA
- Sahara El-Kebira, Italy