EU, UNDP and the Government of Egypt work together towards mine clearance and the development of North West Coast region

Oct 23, 2017

(El Alamein, 23rd October 2017) On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the battles of El Alamein, Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, Head of European Union (EU) Delegation to Egypt, and Mr. Richard Dictus, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Egypt, accompanied by EU and UNDP representatives, visited ongoing activities of the EU-funded project ‘Support to the North West Coast Development Plan and Relevant Mine Action: Phase II’ implemented in the cities of Al Alamein and Matrouh.

During the period 20th – 23rd October 2017, the delegation visited El Alamein Preparatory and Secondary School for a session on mine risk education, El Alamein Military Field Battalion for explanation and live demonstration on demining activities, and the Artificial Limb Center in Al Qasr village to meet with beneficiaries.

"The battles of El Alamein, which took place 75 years ago on the Egyptian soil, have had a tremendous importance on the course of the Second World War. Yet, it has also left behind a vast amount of unexploded ordinances that remain a major risk for the population and, more generally, for the development of the North West Coast," said Ambassador Ivan Surkoš. "The EU works with Egypt to tackle this issue," he added.

In 2014, the EU funded the second phase of the mine action project with a grant of EUR 4.7 million. For its implementation, the EU is working in partnership with the UNDP and the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation (MOIIC).

The project has worked along three main pillars: demining, victims' assistance, and mine risk education. To date, the project has successfully exceeded its demining target, by clearing 1,096 Sq. Km. Demined lands have been utilized for the benefit of the Ministries of Housing and Agriculture, and also for the petroleum sector. The project has also raised awareness of the general population, especially children, of the potential danger of land mines and to learn how to behave when facing this danger. Most importantly, it will further aid the development of the multi-billion new eco-city of Al Alamein that is expected to boost the country’s economy with expected employment opportunities amounting to 279,375 jobs, and also to attract people from the heavily populated delta region.

Ambassador Surkoš underscored the importance of supporting mine victims, physically, through medical and orthopaedic services, and economically, through an assistance to develop income-generating activities. He pointed out that the establishment of an EU-funded artificial limbs centre in the city of Matrouh in 2016 has improved the quality of life of the victims and their families. "Thanks to this centre, mine victims receive treatment and maintenance of their artificial limbs in the region where they live without having to travel distances."

Since 2007, UNDP has been providing technical assistance to the Executive Secretariat for Mine Clearance and the Development of the North West Coast through a very successful and productive partnership with MOIIC. The first phase of the project (2007–2014) was launched with the financial support of the Governments of New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

We are very proud of the projects’ achievements and for being one of UNDP’s flagship projects in Egypt. After paving the way for the establishment of the New city of Al Alamein, we look forward to the rather promising future economic opportunities that the new city will attract. We would also like to thank all stakeholders and development partners, particularly the EU, MOIIC, Ministry of Defense and the Corps of Military Engineers for their generous contributions and years-long successful cooperation,” Dictus stated during the field visit. 

Contact information

Ayman Elsherbiny, Press & Information Officer, EU, ayman.elsherbiny@eeas.europa.eu

Fatma Elzahraa Yassin, Communications Analyst, UNDP Egypt, fatma.yassin@undp.org

Hala Rafaat, Executive Secretariat for the Demining and Development of the North West Coast, hala@egyptmineaction.com