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Country Reports
Egypt, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: In March 2003, Egypt announced a national plan to clear mines and develop the northwest coast that would begin immediately and take twenty years to complete.

Mine Ban Policy

Egypt has not acceded to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. It insists that it needs antipersonnel mines to defend its borders and has also said that the treaty fails to require those who laid mines in Egypt in the past to be responsible for clearing them. In November 2002, Egypt was one of 23 countries that abstained in voting on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/74, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Egypt did not attend any Mine Ban Treaty-related meetings in 2002 or the first half of 2003. Egypt signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in 1982, but has not ratified the convention or any of its protocols.

In 2002, the government recast its approach to the landmine problem to focus on development aspects. This was one of the recommendations of an April 2002 assessment report by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and RONCO, a private US contractor.[1] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs adopted this strategy following assent by the Cabinet.[2] After the July 2002 re-formation of the Egyptian Cabinet, the Ministry of Exterior became responsible for landmine policy only and everything else related to the mine issue became the responsibility of the international cooperation sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Landmines Struggle Center (LSC), the only anti-landmine advocacy NGO in Egypt, had to minimize its activities after a new law was issued in June 2002 punishing any dealings with foreign bodies without prior permission from the Minister of Social Affairs.[3] In August 2002, LSC published an Arabic translation of the Egypt chapters of the 1999-2002 Landmine Monitor Reports. The publication was provided to all relevant government officials in Egypt and to participants in a military mine action course.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling

Egypt told a UN assessment mission in February 2000 that it ceased export of antipersonnel mines in 1984 and ended production in 1988. While there is no publicly available evidence that Egypt has produced or exported antipersonnel mines in recent years, the Egyptian position on antipersonnel mine production and trade have not been issued as formal policy statements and there has been no official decree by the government to implement them. Thus, Landmine Monitor continues to list Egypt as a producer of antipersonnel mines. Egypt is likely to have a large stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but details on it are considered a national security secret.

Landmine Problem & Mine Action

Egypt often cites a figure of 23 to 25 million landmines emplaced in the country. Official Egyptian sources have estimated that 16.7 million landmines affect 2,480 million square meters in the western desert area (from Alexandria to the Libyan border and 30 kilometers deep from the Mediterranean coastline) and 5.1 million landmines affect 200 million square meters in eastern areas (Sinai peninsula and Red Sea coast). Other Egyptian officials have stated that only 20-25 percent of these “landmines” are really landmines, the remainder being other types of unexploded ordnance (UXO).[4]

World War II-era landmines and UXO affect an estimated 500,000 civilians in the western desert. As a result of the Egypt-Israel wars, mines and UXO affect some 300,000 civilians in the eastern areas.[5] According to the LSC, very few mined areas are marked or mapped, and Egyptian civilians continue to use the mine-affected areas for cultivation, grazing, infrastructure projects, and housing.[6]

With the exception of a few commercially funded mine clearance projects for oil and tourism in the east of the country, no humanitarian mine clearance activities took place in Egypt during 2002. No survey, marking, or formal mine risk education took place in 2002.

The National Committee to Supervise Mine Clearance did not meet in the first half of 2002. In July 2002, it changed its name to the National Committee to Develop the Northwest Coast and Mine Clearance and subsequently met three times in the latter half of 2002.[7]

In March 2003, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs announced that the Egyptian Cabinet had agreed on a national plan to clear mines and develop the northwest coast that would begin immediately and take twenty years to complete.[8]

Landmine Monitor could not identify any funding or assistance provided to Egypt for mine action in 2002. In its fiscal year 2001, the United States provided Egypt with $708,000 in demining assistance. In 2002, the US-funded training program for deminers continued using residual funds; this included a seminar on mine action held at the end of April 2003.[9]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In 2002, ten new mine/UXO casualties from seven incidents were reported in Egypt; all the casualties were injured adult males. Five incidents caused six casualties in the western desert and two incidents caused four casualties in the eastern area.[10] In 2001, 11 new casualties were reported in nine mine or UXO incidents; three people were killed and eight injured. In 2000, there were 12 new mine or UXO casualties reported.[11] Many mine incidents are likely to go unreported, especially amongst the nomadic Bedouin tribes in the Western desert.

According to a survey conducted by the LSC, none of the casualties in 2002 had received mine risk education or saw warning signs or fences in the incident area. None of the survivors received compensation or a pension. The casualties received medical care according to the available health services in the mined areas.

The rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration facilities and services available to landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities throughout Egypt have not changed in 2002.[12] There are no vocational training or employment programs in the mine-affected areas. The manufacture of orthopedic appliances is still solely a commercial activity, except at military centers. Civilians must pay for artificial limbs. There are no NGOs or internationally funded programs to assist landmine survivors.

There were no new laws or decrees regarding landmine survivors in 2002.[13]

[1] US Agency for International Development and RONCO Consulting Corporation, “Arab Republic of Egypt, Mine Action Assessment Report and Proposed Organization,” 3 April 2002.
[2] Media release by Minister Fayza Abou Elnaga, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Head of the National Committee for Development of Northern Coast and Mine Clearance, in Akhbar Elyoom (daily newspaper), 8 March 2003.
[3] Law 84/2002, passed by the Egyptian People's Assembly on 3 June 2002.
[4] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 921-922.
[5] USAID and RONCO, “Mine Action Assessment Report,” 3 April 2002, page 5.
[6] Surveys conducted by Landmines Struggle Center, 2001 and 2002.
[7] Telephone interview with an official in the administrative secretariat, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, 20 January 2003.
[8] Media release by Minister Fayza Abou Elnaga, in Akhbar Elyoom, 8 March 2003.
[9] Email from William Lawrence, Mine Action Instructor, 27 April 2003.
[10] All information in this section taken from a survey by the Landmines Struggle Center, which collects and receives information on mine/UXO incidents from local sources and the media. Staff of the center go to the incident location, monitor the area, and interview survivors, witnesses and inhabitants in the area. Hospitals where mine casualties are transferred are visited and official documents relating to the incident are collected, if available.
[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 646-647.
[12] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 1003-1004.
[13] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 647.