Landmines cleared from Egypt’s Alamein site


Egyptian authorities say they have cleared landmines from 13 100 hectares of desert at Alamein, about 400km northwest of Cairo, paving the way for agricultural and housing projects.

Most mines were laid during World War II and the Arab-Israeli wars between 1948 and 1973, and have hampered plans to develop the desert, experts say.

The government has been seeking international assistance to demine its deserts since the end of the 1990s, but there has been “scant interest from the international community”, according to Fathi el-Shazly, a former diplomat and the manager of Mine-Action, a local NGO.

According to the 2009 Landmine Monitor report, no reliable figures for the extent of contamination exist, but a joint Egypt/UN Development Programme report in November 2006 referred to 2 680sqkm of contamination – almost four times the estimated contaminated area in Afghanistan.

The Egyptian army has estimated that 16.7 million explosive items have still to be found.