One million three hundred thousand acres of Egyptian land were cleared of landmines and other unexploded munitions since the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, said Brigadier Shamel Ibrahim, head of the engineering department at the Interior Ministry.
Ibrahim announced these figures during a meeting of the Defense and National Security Committee of the People’s Assembly on Sunday. The committee had called for a national project to remove mines.
Ibrahim added that this area includes 350,000 acres in the Western Desert and 39,000 acres in Alamein, Matruh, Seedi Barani and Salloum.
He said that 1.5 million landmines were cleared, and that 23 million mines and unexploded munitions were cleared between 1999 and 2007. Ibrahim said the armed forces clear 7,000 acres of mines each year, according to the five-year plan.
Ibrahim said that 487,000 acres of land in the Western desert, and 450,000 acres in Sinai, the Red Sea Coast and the Suez Canal were thought to be contaminated with landmines.
Ambassador Fathy al-Shazly, the executive director of the Secretariat for Demining at the Ministry of International Cooperation, said that Egypt received maps from Germany, Britain and Italy showing all landmines laid in Egypt.
In a statement before Parliament’s Defense Committee, Shazly said that natural occurrences such as floods and wind moved the mines from their original locations, noting that Egypt now has all of the data and information concerning the location of the mines.
Shazly said 75 percent of these mines are unexploded munitions, 2.5 percent are anti-tank mines and 2.5 percent are anti-personnel mines.