Nearly 20% of the world's landmines lie beneath Egypt's Western Desert.
Egypt’s western and eastern deserts have been suffering from an overload of landmines, still buried beneath the sands since the Battle of El Alamein. The mines have imposed dangers on civilians and militants accidentally stepping on them, causing detonations either wounding or killing them. The battlefield’s remnants also pose as wasted potential land which has been off bounds since World War II.
Now, according to Egypt Today, NATO has completed the first phase of a demining program that they’re working on, using radar systems that could detect the mines buried deep in the Western Desert.
“We have given Egypt very advanced equipment. The mines are at different depths, so we needed specialised devices and hired a pioneering company in the field to build the equipment,” a NATO official said regarding the demining program between Cairo and NATO.
Their second phase of the program, which hasn’t been launched yet, looks at ways to utilize the benefits of the landmines. The project, which NATO has already funded with $4 million, includes field training for Egyptians. A private company was also hired by NATO to design equipment to complete the second stage of the project.
Details of the programs have not been disclosed, however Egypt Today states that Paolo Alli, NATO Parliamentary Assembly President and Vice Chairman of the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group—has launched an establishment in early 2018 that focuses on security challenges and needs with their partners from the South.
According to the United Nation’s missions, there is an estimated number of 19.7 million mines hidden in the Western Desert.
Main image taken from Newsweek.