We have often written about the land mines that riddle Egypt’s desert. Originally planted during World War II by both Axis and Allied forces, these insidious weapons of war have since drifted from their original location, posing tremendous risk to local people.
Egyptian researchers strive to find safe methods to clear explosive mine fields and an Afghani designer built a bamboo minesweeper modeled after a childhood toy to keep his own people safe. But the desert is so remote and so vast that putting the scale of the problem into perspective can be challenging. These images by Andrew Youngson collected in a series called “The Devil’s Garden” do just that.
Youngson says that the desert war was supposed to have been different from that fought in Europe. Civilians should have been spared the worst. While that may have been the case throughout the conflict, in the seven decades since, the Bedouin population has had to confront the daily fear of accidentally treading on these hidden killers.
“It is estimated that approximately 17 million unexploded anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, artillery shells, bombs dropped by aircraft, as well as machine guns, small arms and mortar rounds remain beneath the sand” stretching between Alexandria and Libya, says Youngsun.
He adds that areas set aside for tourism or large multinational companies have been cleared of the war’s legacy, but Bedouin lands have been ignored. Thousands of innocent people are said to have been maimed or killed as a result.
These frank portraits shot in individual homes are glaringly absent of sentimentality. Not sugar-coated or fluffed up with excess external stimuli, each image forces us to confront the same injustice that each of the brave “models” face each day.
Most of all, the photographs convey a powerful message: it’s time to clear the mines so that the Bedouins can live in peace once more.
For more information and a chance to own one of these haunting images and support Youngson’s work, please visit his website: http://www.andrewyoungson.com