Egypt plagued with 22,7 million Landmines
Egypt, Environment, 6/23/2000
Egypt is one of the countries that have the largest number of landmines. The Middle East is one of the most heavily mined regions in the world. Egypt alone has one quarter of the world's landmines buried in its deserts, most leftover from the Second World War.
"Although, Egypt has long lobbied for international assistance to remove the deadly weapons, but it has refused to sign the Ottawa Treaty on the Prohibition of Landmines because it focuses on banning mines, not clearing them, and doesn't specify who would pay", Egypt's Permanent Delegate to the UN, Ahmed Abul Gheit said.
Egypt's government did pledge to attend the December signing ceremony in Ottawa, as observers since Egypt has a strong interest in getting rid of landmines, but even stronger reservations about the treaty, Abul Gheit added.
"While cost of dumping a mine ranges from $5 to $30, clearance costs $300 to $400. In the 1980s, the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Germany contributed about $20 million for training and equipment, in addition to Satellite photography to determine the extent of the problem and help locate minefields" Mary Fawler, UN Coordinator for Landmines Affairs said.
"The past two years have demonstrated that a new standard of behavior is being established, completely rejecting antipersonnel mines. Those who won't sign the ban treaty should be stigmatized; those who continue to use this indiscriminate weapon should be ostracized," said Elizabeth Bernstein, Coordinator of the ICBL.
The ICBL calls on all governments to accede to or ratify the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and to implement it fully by assisting victims of landmines, removing mines already laid, destroying stockpiled mines, and never again using, producing or exporting this perverse weapon.
Activities around the Globe on the Second Anniversary of the Opening for Signature of the 1997 Landmines Convention and International Day for Disabled Persons
Egypt's Landmines Struggle Center, ICRC-Cairo and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights organized a seminar on Landmines in Cairo with a screening of an ICRC film on the Treaty in Arabic.
Cairo announced the establishment of a center for combating mines, and to remove more than 23 million mines planted in Egypt. This center constitutes the first civilian attempt in the region to combat the danger of mines and prevent their use and manufacture.
Moreover the center will observe the areas where mines are planted in Egypt, to warn the inhabitants to avoid them and arrange for international, regional and domestic campaigns in cooperation with the international organizations for clearing the regions.
The Egyptian authorities are seeking to clear the border regions of mines.
Egypt's problem stems from the fact that its landmines are old and hard to locate and were designed for use against tanks, whereas international criticism is generally focused on antipersonnel mines.
The western desert, scene of one of the major second world war battles--El Alamine--was littered with 20 million mines by the armies.
Later, Egypt and Israel combined to dump more than 6 million mines in the Sinai desert and the region of the Gulf of Suez during the wars in 1967 and 1973. Many of those mines are booby-trapped.
Seven million mines have been cleared from the western desert in the past 15 years and three million from the Sinai desert. But Egypt has set the year 2006 as the target for finally ridding its sands of land mines, but it is anxious not to left alone in paying for and carrying out this huge task.
Egyptian environment minister in Morocco next week
Egyptian Environment Minister in Morocco on Sunday
International conference on protecting the environment and remote sensing in Oman
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