At El Amien, World War Two Landmines Have Claimed 8000 Victims Since 1945

Battle of El Alamein

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein. That battle marked the beginning of the end for the Germans in North Africa. 75 years later, the battle is still claiming victims.

Winston Churchill considered the battle so important, he famously said, “Before El Alamein, we never knew victory, after Alamein we never knew defeat.”

Since the war, over 8,000 people have been killed or wounded by landmines left behind by British, Italian and German armies.

The troops left behind an estimated 17 million landmines – the largest minefields ever laid. One-fifth of the country is still unusable because of them.

The sands of the Western Desert help keep the TNT in the mines from decaying. They are still as potent as when they were laid.

Royal Artillery, in action, July 1942.
Royal Artillery, in action, July 1942.

 

Kassim lost a leg to the landmines in 1991. He believes that the Europeans should have cleaned up the minefields when they left.

The Egyptian Army has been working to remove the mines for years.

The Europeans do supply equipment and have partially funded a prosthetic clinic for victims that began service just four months ago.

It would be more useful, say the Egyptians, if the Europeans would provide the maps of where they laid the mines, ITV News reported.

Marco Ramazzotti is with the European Demining Monitor. He says that the European countries aren’t willing to recognize their responsibilities. “The war was European, it wasn’t anything to do with Egypt as such.”

To make matters worse, Bedouin tribespeople hunt the mines and sell the TNT. The Egyptian authorities claim that ISIS and Al Qaida have used that TNT in their bombs.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE