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Sudan: More trouble at Merowe site

Three people were killed and more than 50 wounded on 22 April in clashes involving local people resisting resettlement as part of the 1,250MW Merowe (Hamdab) dam project.
The Leadership Office of Hamdab Affected People quoted witnesses as saying men armed with machine guns and heavy artillery attacked the Amri village school which was being used as a meeting place, opening fire on protesters while they were having breakfast in the courtyard. People who drove the injured to hospital at Kariema town were arrested, it said.
Lahmeyer International, which is managing construction, said it had also interviewed people involved in the incident, and gave a different version of events. It said a group of protesters resisting relocation had attacked teams that had come to the village to settle compensation issues. The teams were accompanied by ten police officers. “Police resorted to rubber bullets to control the situation. Live ammunition was said to be used by the attackers and fire was returned as a result of which three people were killed and the attackers withdrew,” Lahmeyer said in a statement. The Amri communities have been vigorously resisting resettlement, calling to be resettled around the dam reservoir rather than in the Bayouda desert. The affected people allege that the dam authority has sold their land to Arab investors. Last year, the International Rivers Network (IRN) and the UK’s The Corner House, expressed concern about the Chinese-funded dam, saying it violated World Bank guidelines on no fewer than 63 counts (AE 89/10). They highlighted the plight of the first 10,000 people to be resettled, who had left the fertile Nile Valley for the harsh conditions of El Multaga in the Nubian desert, where they were living in poverty, unable to grow enough crops to sell.
According to Lahmeyer, new villages have been constructed at El ultaga, “including houses, water supply, electricity, medical facilities and schools (used also by children from outside the area because of their quality). Water supply, electricity, medical facilities and adequate schools were not available in their original villages.” Damming the fourth cataract of the Nile in northern Sudan will turn a 174km stretch of the river into a reservoir, requiring the resettlement of some 50,000 people. Campaigners concede the need for infrastructure development after decades of civil war, but want it to be carried out in line with international standards, not by using Asian money to bypass human rights and environmental concerns.

Additional information:
News date: 09/05/2006

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