Mine Action

Last updated: 12 November 2018


Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty

State not party

Mine action management

National mine action management actors

“Support the North West Coast Development Plan and Mine Action Programme: Mine Action,” a joint project between the Egyptian government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP)
National Centre for Landmine Action and Sustainable Development, established in 2017

Operators in 2017

Egyptian Army Corps of Engineers

Extent of contamination as of end 2017


Not known
2,680km2 of land in the North West Coast estimated to still be contaminated

Cluster munition remnants


Other ERW contamination

Extent not reported

Land release in 2017


Not reported

Other ERW

Not reported



It was reported that a total area of 1,096 km² has been “cleared” since the beginning of the “Support the North West Coast Development Plan and Mine Action Programme: Mine Action” project in 2009
Phase two of the mine action project ended in 2017, and negotiations for a third phase were reported to be under way in August 2017

Notes: ERW = explosive remnants of war.


The Arab Republic of Egypt is contaminated with mines in the Western Desert, which date from the Second World War, and in the Sinai Peninsula and Eastern Desert, which are a legacy of wars with Israel between 1956 and 1973. Some recent mine incidents in Sinai may have been caused by mines emplaced by anti-government jihadist groups.[1] It was reported in August 2016 that Islamic State had been digging up Second World War-era landmines and re-using them.[2] The precise extent of contamination across the country remains unknown and past estimates have been unreliable.

Most of the Western Desert contamination occurred around the location of Second World War battles that took place between the Quattara depression and Alamein on the Mediterranean coast. Other affected areas lie around the city of Marsa Matrouh and at Sallum near the Libyan border. In November 2016, during a ceremony to mark the opening of a new prosthetic limb center, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Ambassador to Egypt announced that all the maps of minefields laid by British and Allied forces during World War II had been handed over.[3] 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. In January 2018, the British Member of Parliament Daniel Kawczynski put a written question to the UK Secretary of State for International Development asking whether her department was taking steps to assist with the mapping and disposal of Second World War mines in the Tobruk and El Alamein regions. The UK reiterated that maps of minefield locations had been provided to the Egyptian authorities and that, since 2006, through multilateral funding along with other donors (including Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States), the UK had funded clearance of 130,446 acres of land around El Alamein.[4]

In October 2017, it was reported by the European Union’s (EU) ambassador to Egypt that 2,680km2 of land in the North West Coast was estimated to still be contaminated.[5]

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.”[6] These findings were reiterated in June 2017 at a UN Security Council briefing when Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the UN Amr Abdel-Latif Abul Atta stated that “abandoned mines and explosive remnants of wars have become a source of access for armed movements and terrorists to find materials for manufacturing improvised explosive devices.”[7] It was reported in January 2018 that Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), which pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014, has been using old mines and caches of explosives left in Sinai to produce different types of explosive devices. There were at least five major attacks by terrorist groups using such devices in Egypt in 2017.[8]

Program Management

In 2017, as in previous years, the mine action program in Egypt was not functioning effectively.

The second phase of a joint project between the Egyptian government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), “Support the North West Coast Development Plan and Mine Action Program: Mine Action,” ended in 2017. The project provided 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.[9]

It was reported that a total area of 1,096 km² has been “cleared” since the beginning of the project in 2009 and that there are plans to establish an eco-oriented city, the “New City of Alamein.”[10]

The first phase concluded in 2014. The Director of the Executive Secretariat acknowledged that the results had been “disappointing,” due to instability in the country.[11] A second phase, funded by the EU, the UNDP, and USAID, ended in 2017. In August 2017, it was reported that negotiations had begun on a third phase of the project to allocate $5 million to clear the rest of the northern coast and the Sinai Peninsula.[12]

Funding was also used for capacity-building, establishing a quality management unit, and supporting the creation of the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database.

Clearance was conducted using both manual and mechanical demining techniques. The executive secretariat is said to have procured 461 mine detectors, 355 demining suits and protective helmets, one Casspir armored vehicle with the “Mine Lab” detecting device, and five Armtrac vehicles.[13]

In January 2017, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr announced the establishment of the National Center for Landmine Action and Sustainable Development. Minister Nasr said that the center would begin clearing 600km2 in the northern coast and would also establish infrastructure after clearance was completed.[14]


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.[15]

As noted above, the UNDP is a partner in Egypt’s national demining and development program.

Land Release

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 (, which has conducted the primary mine action research in 2018 and shared all its country-level landmine reports (from“Clearing the Mines 2018”) and country-level cluster munition reports (from “Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2018”) with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.

[1]Sinai landmine kills three soldiers,” News24, 9 March 2015.

[2] P. Schwartzstein, “ISIS Is Digging Up Nazi Land Mines in Egypt,” Newsweek, 10 August 2016.

[3] A. Nayder, “Helping Landmine Victims in Marsa Matrouh-And Preventing More,” Because, 3 November 2016.

[4] Daniel Kawczynski, MP,“Egypt and Libya: Land Mines–Written question122961,” 16 January 2018.

[5]Egypt battles landmines 75 years after El Alamein,” Agence France-Presse, 28 October 2017.

[6] P. Schwartzstein, “ISIS Is Digging Up Nazi Landmines From World War 2 As Explosives,” Newsweek, 10 August 2016.

[7] Statement of Amr Abdel-Latif Abul Atta, Permanent Representative to the UN, UN Security Council Meeting, UN doc. SC/12866, 13 June 2017.

[8]How Egyptian security dealt with IEDs threat?Egypt Today, 1 January 2018.

[9] UNDP, “Support to the North West Coast Development and Mine Action Plan,” undated.

[10] European Commission “Joint Staff Working Document 2018: The European Union’s Support for Mine Action across the World,” 14 February 2018, p. 23

[11] M. Samir, “UNDP, USAID provide EGP 13.8m for WWII landmines clearance programme,” Daily News Egypt, 20 May 2015.

[12] Ibid.; and “Egypt to invest $17.5M in Anti-Mines Action Project,” APA News, 11 August 2017.

[13] See, Executive Secretariat for Mine Clearance and the Development of the North West Coast, “Demining,” undated.

[15] GICHD, “Where we work: Egypt,” June 2015.