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Sudanese activist to discuss deadly attacks tied to dam project

Sudanese activist to discuss deadly attacks tied to dam project

Sudanese activist to discuss deadly attacks tied to dam project
March 21, 2007

A new dam on the Nile River will displace more than 50,000 people and inundate historical sites in Sudan, reports International Rivers Network (IRN), a Berkeley-based environmental group. IRN says that once completed, the $1.8 billion Merowe Dam could worsen already poor health conditions in the area and cause significant environmental impacts.

“The Merowe Dam will have serious environmental impacts on the Nile Valley, the lifeline for Northern Sudan,” said Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers Network. “The project violates Sudan’s Environmental Protection Act and all internationally accepted environmental standards. The Merowe Dam could not be built in most other countries, and is a test case for the commitment of leading hydropower companies to the minimal standards of environmental stewardship. The companies that are developing the project should suspend construction until the serious environmental impacts have been adequately addressed.”

Photos of the potentially affected region in Sudan. Photos by David Haberlah.

IRN notes that opposition to the dam has been met by a violent response from the Sudanese government. In April 2006, a militia employed by the Merowe Dam authorities, opened fired on Amri villagers who were gathering in a school in the dam—affected area. Three people were killed and more than 50 were injured. At the time, Al-Jazeera carried footage of the attack.

To raise awareness on the project, the group has invited Ali Askouri, a Sudanese human rights activist who represents the communities affected by the dam, to speak about the impact of the dam. At 7pm Tuesday, March 27, 2007 Morgan Lounge in Morgan Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus, Askouri will talk about the struggle to stop the project, and the cooperation between a Sudanese grassroots movement and IRN.

“The Merowe Dam, now under construction on the Nile in Northern Sudan, is a huge and controversial project that promises intensified social unrest and misery for the tens of thousands it will forcibly displace,” said Askouri in the fall 2004 issue of Forced Migration Review.

Under the resettlement plans, some of the river-dwelling people will be moved to desolate stretches of desert sites.

Major backing for the project comes from China’s Export Import Bank and a consortium of Arab oil state banks.

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