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  1. ITV Report

Egypt's landmine legacy of El Alamein sees 8,000 casualties since end of World War II

  • Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

Seventy-five years since the Battle of El Alamein, Egyptian civilians continue to be maimed by landmines left behind after one of the Second World War's best-known campaigns.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the battle that marked the beginning of the end for the German war effort in North Africa.

So important was El Alamein to the outcome of the Second World War, that as then prime minister Winston Churchill put it: "Before Alamein we never new victory, after Alamein we never knew defeat."

But since the end of the Second World War, there have been more than 8,000 casualties from the landmines left behind by British, Italian and German forces.

The estimated 17 million landmines left behind by European forces were the largest minefields ever laid, and to this day render one-fifth of the country unusable.

Kassim lost his leg to a Second World War II landmine in 1991 Credit: ITV News

The sands of the Western Desert have helped preserved the TNT in the unexploded ordnance and done nothing to diminish their potency.

Kassim, who lost his leg to a Second World War landmine in 1991, told ITV News the European countries that left behind the landmines 75 years ago "should have cleared up their mess before leaving Egypt".

The Egyptian army has spent years de-mining, a huge and painstakingly slow process.

Clearing the landmines is a laborious task for the Egyptian Army. Credit: ITV News

European nations do have some involvement with the efforts, supplying some equipment and partially funding a prosthetic clinic for victims which opened its doors only four months ago.

But more beneficial, Egyptian authorities say, would be if European countries provided the 1942 maps that showed where they laid the landmines.

Landmines left over from the battle of El Alamein continue to cause havoc Credit: ITV News

Marco Ramazzotti, of the European Demining Monitor, told ITV News: "They are not willing to give political recognition of their responsibilities...

"There are European responsibilities here...

"The war was European, it wasn't anything to do with Egypt as such."

But the maps have not been forthcoming.

What is more, Bedouin tribespeople look for unexploded mines and shells and sell the explosives they contain. The Egyptian Government claims Al-Qaida and so-called Islamic State have used wartime TNT in some of their bombs.