+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
Egypt, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since 1999: In 2002, the government recast its approach to the landmine problem to focus on development aspects. In 2003, Egypt adopted a national plan to develop the north coast and clear mines. The United States trained Egyptian Army deminers and provided equipment and other assistance between 2000 and 2003. In February 2000, Egypt told a UN assessment mission that it does not produce or export antipersonnel mines. An Arab Regional Seminar on Landmines was held in Cairo in April 2000. Since 1999, at least 87 new landmine/UXO casualties were reported in Egypt.

Mine Ban Policy

Egypt has not acceded to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. In June 2004, a government representative restated the country’s long-held position that it needs antipersonnel mines to defend its borders and that the treaty fails to require those who laid mines in Egypt in the past to be responsible for clearing them.[1] Egypt participated in the Ottawa Process only as an observer. Egypt voted in favor of the 1996 UN General Assembly Resolution urging states to pursue vigorously an international agreement banning antipersonnel mines, but has abstained on every subsequent UNGA resolution calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 on 8 December 2003.

In September 2003, Egypt attended an annual Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty for the first time. Egypt has attended some meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty’s intersessional Standing Committees, including in June 2004. Egypt participated in a regional seminar on landmines hosted by the Arab League in Cairo in April 2000.

Egypt signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in 1981, but has not ratified the convention or any of its protocols. Egypt attended the Fifth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II on 26 November 2003 and has been active in the CCW on the issue of explosive remnants of war.

Protection of Armaments and Consequences (formerly the Landmines Struggle Center), 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.[2] In 2002, Protection published an Arabic translation of the Egypt chapters of the 1999-2002 editions of Landmine Monitor Report, and provided the publication to 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.[3] 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 cited in international reference publications as having produced two types of low metal content blast antipersonnel mines, several variations of bounding fragmentation mines, and a Claymore-type mine.[4] Tanzania has declared stockpiling antipersonnel mines of Egyptian origin.[5]

Egypt is likely to have a large stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but details on it are considered a national security secret. A soldier interviewed in August 2003 stated that the military keeps samples of every type of mine so that its troops can identify them and avoid injury.[6]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

World War II and the Egypt-Israel wars of 1956, 1967, and 1973 have left Egypt a mine-affected country. Egypt often cites a figure of 23 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).[7] Antipersonnel mines believed to be in the Western Desert include German S-type bounding fragmentation mines and British Mk.2 mines. Antivehicle mines are thought to include German Riegalmine 43, Tellermine 35, Tellermine 42 and Tellermine 43 mines, Italian B-2 and V-3 mines, and British Mk.5 and Mk.7 mines.[8]

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.[9] According to the NGO Protection, 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.[10] According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs document, the Egyptian army cleared 3 million mines at an estimated cost of $27 million from 1981 to 1991.[11] This document also states that mines and UXO in the Western Desert deny access to the reserves of an estimated 4.8 billion barrels of oil and 13.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.[12]

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 2003 or the first half of 2004.[13] There was also no survey, marking, or formal mine risk education during this time period.[14]

In 2002, the government recast its approach to the landmine problem to focus on development aspects, after an assessment mission by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and RONCO, a private US contractor.[15] The National Committee to Supervise Mine Clearance, established in April 2000 under the direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, changed its name to the National Committee to Develop the Northwest Coast and Mine Clearance in July 2002. The Committee does not meet regularly, but upon request of its chairman.[16] In 2003, the Committee adopted a national plan to develop the north coast and clear mines and also planned for a media campaign to start on May 2004.[17] Responsibility for chairing the committee shifted to the Minister of International Cooperation on 21 June 2004.

In 2000, three Egyptian citizens filed a case requesting that courts reverse a government decision not to file a claim with the International Court of Justice against those who had laid mines in Egyptian territory. In 2001, the administrative court decided it did not have jurisdiction (3333/54), and the three citizens issued an appeal. As of April 2004, the court had not reached a decision.[18]

Egypt was accepted into the US humanitarian demining program in 1999 and received $1.5 million.[19] The program included training and provision of demining equipment. The training focused on mine detection and disposal, mine awareness, and survey and information management. The program ended in April 2003.[20] The US Department of Defense budget for the program for 2003 was $783,000. USAID has allocated an additional $750,000 for the technical secretariat of Egypt’s national committee. By September 2004, however, the Egyptian government had not requested these funds.[21]

In 2004, Egyptian media reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency had discussed plans with the Egyptian government to provide it with technical support for mine detection projects in the western desert.[22]

Landmine Casualties

In 2003, seven people were seriously injured in five reported mine and UXO incidents; two required amputations.[23] There is no comprehensive data collection mechanism in Egypt and many mine incidents are likely to go unreported, especially among the nomadic Bedouin tribes in the Western desert.

Casualties continue to be reported in 2004. The NGO Protection has recorded 10 new casualties in five mine/UXO incidents from 1 January to 1 September 2004. All of the incidents occurred in the Western Desert. Nine of the casualties were civilian and one was military; five of the civilian casualties were children under 18 years old.[24]

Between 1999 and 2002, there were at least 70 new mine/UXO casualties in Egypt: ten injured in 2002; three people killed and eight injured in 2001; five killed and seven injured in 2000; and 14 killed and 23 injured in 1999.[25]

The total number of landmine casualties in Egypt is not known. In February 1999, it was reported that landmines had claimed 8,313 casualties (696 killed and 7,617 injured); 5,017 were civilians. These figures are believed to only apply to casualties occurring in the Western Desert since 1982.[26]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice[27]

Health services differ for civilian and military casualties. Civilians have no access to military hospitals, rehabilitation facilities or veterans associations. The Ministry of Health, through emergency departments located in every hospital, handles emergency medical care for civilians in Egypt. However, emergency services remain inadequate for many civilian mine casualties. Civilian casualties sometimes receive emergency services from the military, but often civilians must wait extended periods of time to be transferred to hospitals that can handle their medical needs, and can travel up to 100 kilometers to receive appropriate medical attention. The military has emergency vehicles and a communications network in place to respond to incidents involving military personnel who receive care in military hospitals, which are located in every governorate in Egypt. In Cairo there are modern facilities while in the mined areas it is difficult to find modern equipment or trained staff. The manufacture of orthopedic devices is still solely a commercial activity, except at military centers. Civilians must pay for artificial limbs. There are no vocational training or employment programs in the mine-affected areas. There are no known NGOs or international organizations with special programs for landmine survivors in Egypt. In 2003, the government-run Nile news satellite channel produced and broadcast a documentary film on mine victims, titled “Faces from AL'ALAMEEN.”[28]

Law 39/1975 (Executive Roll Number 59/1979) states that persons with disabilities are entitled to receive free medical care, and provides a structure for their care and rehabilitation. However, limited financial resources hamper implementation of its provisions.

Pensions received by landmine survivors differ for military personnel and civilians. The military has two systems: first, if the person was working in a demining team and was injured or killed because of their work, the survivor or their family will receive compensation that could reach $25,000 and a pension depending on length of service; second, if the person is not working in demining and was injured or killed, they will receive all medical care, including care abroad if necessary, for free and a pension. A civilian might receive compensation of $80 and no pension. The Minister of Social Affairs signed a year 2000 budget for 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($27,000) for the compensation of mine/UXO victims.

[1] Statement by Counselor Sameh Abouelanein, Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the UN in Geneva, to the Intersessional Standing Committee meeting, Geneva, 21 June 2004.
[2] Law 84/2002, passed by the Egyptian People's Assembly on 3 June 2002.
[3] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Arab Republic of Egypt,” July 2000, p. 21. Landmine Monitor Report 1999 stated that Egypt had exported mines to at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Somalia.
[4] Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance 2000-2001, p. 117, 457-458.
[5] Tanzania, Article 7 Report, Form F, 5 February 2003.
[6] “Silent Killers,” Egypt Today, 13 August 2003.
[7] Col. Dr. Abdel-Hamid Mostafa, Ministry of Defense, presentation to the Arab Regional Seminar on Landmines, Cairo, 9-11 April 2000.
[8] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Arab Republic of Egypt,” July 2000, p. 10.
[9] USAID and RONCO Consulting Corporation, “Arab Republic of Egypt, Mine Action Assessment Report and Proposed Organization,” 3 April 2002, p. 5.
[10] Surveys conducted by Landmines Struggle Center (now Protection of Armaments and Consequences), 2001 and 2002.
[11] Ministry of Foreign Affairs paper on the Mine Ban Treaty, obtained by the Landmine Monitor Researcher, 5 September 2004.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Surveys conducted by Protection of Armaments and Consequences, 2003 and 2004.
[14] Ibid.
[15] USAID and RONCO, “Egypt, Mine Action Assessment Report,” 3 April 2002.
[16] Interview with Amb. Mohamed Tawfik, Office Director of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Cairo, 26 April 2004.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Interview with one of the three citizens, Cairo, 27 April 2004.
[19] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 942.
[20] Email from William Lawrence, Mine Action Instructor, 27 April 2003.
[21] Interview with Alfred Magleby, First Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, US Embassy in Egypt, Cairo, 26 April 2004.
[22] “IAEA supports mine detection projects in Egypt,” Cairo, 16 April 2004, p. 15.
[23] Surveys conducted by Protection of Armaments and Consequences, 2003 and 2004.
[24] Surveys conducted by Protection of Armaments and Consequences, 2004.
[25] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 646-647; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1003; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 927.
[26] For more details see Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 926. The figures were cited in a Ministry of Foreign Affairs paper on the Mine Ban Treaty, obtained 5 September 2004.
[27] Surveys conducted by Protection of Armaments and Consequences, 2003 and 2004. See also Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 1003-1004; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 927.
[28] Surveys conducted by Protection of Armaments and Consequences, 2003 and 2004.