Contaminated by: landmines (extent unknown) and unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Recommendation for action
- The Arab Republic of Egypt should seek assistance to develop a functioning civilian mine action program.
Egypt is contaminated with mines in the Western Desert, which date from World War II, and in the Sinai Peninsula and Eastern Desert, which are a legacy of wars with Israel between 1956 and 1973. Some mine incidents in Sinai may have been caused by mines emplaced by anti-government jihadist groups. The precise extent of contamination across the country remains unknown and past estimates have been unreliable.
Most of the Western Desert contamination occurs around the location of World War II battles that took place between the Quattara depression and Alamein on the Mediterranean coast. In November 2016, during a ceremony to mark the opening of a new prosthetic limb centre, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Egypt announced that all the maps of minefields laid by British and Allied forces during World War II had been handed over. According to the head of the military engineering department, though, the British minefield maps were “sketch maps” and most of the mines were buried randomly. Other affected areas lie around the city of Marsa Matrouh and at Sallum near the Libyan border.
In August 2016, it was reported that Islamic State had been harvesting the explosives from World War II mines still uncleared in Egypt. According to Ambassador Fathy el-Shazly, formerly the head of Egypt’s Executive Secretariat for Mine Clearance, “We’ve had at least 10 reports from the military of terrorists using old mines. Even now, these things trouble us in different ways.”
In 2016 as in previous years, the mine action program in Egypt was not functioning effectively.
A joint project between the Egyptian government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), “Support the North West Coast Development Plan and Mine Action Programme: Mine Action” is ongoing. The project provides for creation of an Executive Secretariat for Mine Clearance and the Development of the North West Coast within the Ministry of Planning to coordinate implementation of the North West Coast Development Plan through a partnership consisting of the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Defense, and the UNDP. The project foresaw demining based on humanitarian and development needs, mine risk education, and assistance to mine victims.
The first phase of the project concluded in 2014. The director of the executive secretariat acknowledged that the results had been disappointing, due to instability in the country. A second phase is due to last until 2017, funded by the European Union (EU), the UNDP, and USAID.
In January 2017, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr announced the establishment of the National Centre for Landmine Action and Sustainable Development. Minister Nasr said that the center would begin clearing 600 square kilometers on the northern coast and would also establish infrastructure after clearance was completed.
Mine clearance in Egypt is conducted by the Egyptian Army Corps of Engineers, part of the Egyptian armed forces.
The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) provides support to the Executive Secretariat and the Army Corps of Engineers in information management and operations. This support includes revision and introduction of national standard operating procedures for mine action in 2014, advice on land release methodology and techniques, and assistance to the UNDP in improving mechanical mine action.
As noted above, the UNDP is a partner in Egypt’s national demining and development program.
Egypt has not reported with any credibility on its release of mined areas in recent years.
The Monitor acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review (www.mineactionreview.org), which has conducted the mine action research in 2017, including on survey and clearance, and shared all its resulting landmine and cluster munition reports with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.
 “Sinai landmine kills three soldiers,” News24, 9 March 2015.
 A. Nayder, “Helping Landmine Victims in Marsa Matrouh-And Preventing More,” Because, 3 November 2016.
 R. Imam, E. Rashed, and M. Fouad, “Devil’s Gardens Nearly 639 killed & injured in El Alamein,” Middle East Observer, 23 November 2016.
 P. Schwartzstein, “ISIS Is Digging Up Nazi Landmines From World War 2 As Explosives,” Newsweek, 10 August 2016.
 UNDP, “Support to the North West Coast Development and Mine Action Plan,” undated.
 M. Samir, “UNDP, USAID provide EGP 13.8m for WWII landmines clearance programme,” Daily News Egypt, 20 May 2015.
 UNDP, “EU and UNDP celebrate the launch of the second phase of the project to help develop the North West Coast and mine action,” Press release, 24 October 2014; and M. Samir, “UNDP, USAID provide EGP 13.8m for WWII landmines clearance programme,” Daily News Egypt, 20 May 2015.
 H. Salah, “Establishment of National Center for Mines Action and Sustainable Development completed: Nasr,” Daily News Egypt, 23 January 2017.
 GICHD, “Where we work: Egypt,” June 2015.