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World Water Week

German company is partly to blame for the expulsion of farmers for the construction of the dam in the Sudan

Bolzano/Bozen, Göttingen, 22. August 2006

On the occasion of the World Water Week the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) has pointed to the negative consequences of the Merowe dam in the North Sudan. Some 50,000 members of the Arabian ethnic groups of the Manasir, Amri and Hamadab on the banks of the Nile are threatened with forcible resettlement. The human rights organisation has accused the firm of Lahmeyer International, which is based in Bad Vilbel in the German province of Hessen, and which has planned and coordinated the construction as main contactor, with being partly responsible for the expulsions.

"Lahmeyer International must at least support those affected in pressing for compensation from the Sudanese authorities", demanded the GfbV in a letter to the company. 850 families of the Amri lost their homes on the 6th August, when without any prior warning the flooding of the reservoir of the new high dam was begun. 15 villages were destroyed in the process. A further ten villages with 1350 families are now immediately threatened by the flooding of the reservoir.

The Special Reporter of the United Nations for Human Rights, Sima Samar, expressed concern in Khartoum over the expulsion. An offer of compensation by the Sudanese government, which has never involved those affected in the planning of the mammoth project, was rejected by them on Monday as inadequate. They are also protesting against being resettled in barren desert areas. Those affected have launched earnest appeals to people abroad to send aid, since with the flooding of the fields and pastures the means of subsistence of both the farmers and cattle-breeders have been destroyed. The basin with a length of 174 km and a width of four km is planned to improve the energy supply of the Sudan.

In a 14-page memorandum published at the end of June 2006 the GfbV documented arbitrary arrests, massacres and other violations of human rights during the construction of the Merowe dam. In protests against the forcible resettlement on the 22nd April 2006 three objectors to the dam were shot by security forces and 50 injured. When on the 30th September 2003 security forces used live ammunition, plastic bullets and tear gas against women, children and men in a protest against the forcible resettlements the conflict escalated. Many objectors to the dam were arrested and tortured.

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