Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) have a significant negative impact on Egypt as they continue to hinder the country’s security and socio-economic development. Egyptian civilians continue to use landmine contaminated areas for cultivation, grazing, infrastructure projects, and housing. The Executive Secretariat for the Demining and Development of the North West Coast (Exec. Sec.) works on demining for humanitarian purposes in order to pave the way for sustainable development. Land contamination, due to explosive remnants of war, affects an estimated area of 2,395 square kilometers of land in the North West Coast (NWC) and has claimed 8,313 casualties (697 killed and 7,616 injured). Due to this contamination, the NWC suffers from a fragile socio-economic structure, although it covers over 16% of Egypt’s geographic area. The Exec. Sec. aims at reducing the risk of landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) to promote the safety of the people and integrate survivors of mine incidents, socially and economically, in the society. Core pillars of the project include:
- Victim Assistance,
- Mine Risk Education,
- Media and Advocacy.
The Exec. Sec. works with national and international authorities, organizations, and donors in order to achieve these goals and activities.
In 2001, as part of the overall North West Coast development plan, a National Demining Committee was established. The committee was comprised of 20 ministries, concerned governorates, and NGOs and is headed by the Minister of International Cooperation.
In November 2007, upon the request of the Ministry of International Cooperation, USAID agreed to fund the Executive Secretariat for Demining and Development of the North West Coast in order to implement Phase I of the Project which supports the National Development Plan of the North West Coast Program.
On March 20, 2013, the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation requested that USAID continue funding the Exec. Sec. in order to implement Phase II of the Project.
The general objectives of this project phase were: Alleviating mine risk in the region; supporting mine victims and their families; increasing the possibilities of land usage; promoting women empowerment in the region; improving the living conditions of local communities and fostering the economic performance of the region; and promoting agriculture and rural development.
In an effort to support the Matruhi Governorate in overcoming this major developmental challenge of landmines and ERWs, a partnership agreement was signed, on October 24, 2014, between the Delegation of the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the aim of launching a new phase of the Mine Action Programme, which capitalizes on the accomplishments of the first phase which is entitled “Support to the North West Coast Development Plan and Relevant Mine Action.” The second phase aims to strengthen the national capacities of stakeholders to address Mine Action in Egypt through the provision of relevant tools and mechanisms; reintegrate mine victims into the economy as productive community members; and support the continuation of mine clearance operations in line with the National Development Plan of the North West Coast.