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Cablegate: Sudan - Nubian Views On Nile Dam Projects

VZCZCXYZ0005
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #0711/01 1281223
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081223Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7116
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0245

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000711

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/SPG AND SE NATSIOS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINS PHUM KPAO SCUL KDEM PGOV PREL SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - NUBIAN VIEWS ON NILE DAM PROJECTS

REF: SECSTATE 56709

1. (SBU) Summary and Comment: Poloffs met with two
representatives of the Nubian Popular Committee, Dr. Sabbar
and Mr. Faisal Barry, on May 1. Discussions confirmed that
the Nubian community in Northern Sudan continues to oppose
Government of Sudan intentions to construct two additional
dams along the Nile River to the detriment of the resident
Nubian population as well as ancient Nubian artifacts and
culture. Recent demonstrations against these projects have
turned violent and have been documented in local press, but
poloffs assess that the claims of 15,000 to 20,000 attendees
and the use of army units and helicopters at these mid-April
demonstrations are exaggerated. Nonetheless, the GOS
activities opposed by the Nubians are a legitimate concern
for human rights, cultural, and archeological reasons. Work
on one of the dams, Kajbar, had been suspended as a result of
recent demonstrations, but on May 8, Northern State
authorities announced that work will resume. End Summary and
Comment.

2. (SBU) Two representatives of the Nubian Popular Committee,
Dr. Sabbar and Mr. Faisal Barry, met with Political officers
on May 1. They provided an historical overview of the
situation in the Nubian area of northern Sudan. The Aswan Dam
project in Egypt, completed in the 1960's, introduced a
significant threat to the native Nubian culture along the
Nile River and encouraged significant archeological activity
in that region by international experts. New plans by the
government in Khartoum to construct two more dams along the
Nile north of Khartoum, as explained by Dr. Sabbar and Mr.
Faisal, present identical threats to Nubian culture and spawn
the same Nubian opposition. The Kajbar Dam project located on
the Nile between Merowe and the Egyptian border will be the
first of the two to be constructed. The Dahl dam project
located at the top of Lake Nasir, in the far north of Sudan,
will begin after the completion of Kajbar. Construction of
these two additional dams would leave submerged nearly the
entire traditional homeland of the Nubian people, according
to Dr. Sabbar. Preliminary work started on Kajbar, but was
halted in April 2007 due to demonstrations by local
residents. On May 8, newspapers reported that work will soon
resume.

3. (SBU) President Bashir has appointed a special directorate
to oversee implementation and development of these dam
projects, according to Sabbar and Faisal. This directorate
reports to the President personally with no outside oversight
and operates with his full authority. According to the two
Nubian representatives, it is a separate entity from the
Ministry of Irrigation, which would be expected to have
oversight of dam projects. This directorate has employed the
National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) at previous
Nubian demonstrations to violently obstruct the
demonstrators, according to Sabbar and Faisal. The Nubian
movement against the construction of these dams and the
groups associated with it are all peaceful, according to
Sabbar and Faisal.

4. (SBU) Dr. Sabbar said that the Nubian movement has not
attempted to take legal action against the Khartoum
government to prevent these dam projects from going forward
and has made minimal attempts to engage the international
community to address the issue. Sabbar conceded that the
international community is otherwise occupied with many
problems in Sudan, but observed that the government's intent
to displace and effectively obliterate Nubian culture through
the destruction of these areas was tantamount to ethnic
cleansing in his opinion, however peaceably it might occur.

5. (U) Under treaties dating from 1929 and 1959, Egypt has a
say in the construction of new dams on the Nile in Sudan. Dr.
Sabbar said that Egypt is willing to allow the construction
of the two additional dams because they will furnish
irrigation water to Egyptian farmers. Sabbar insisted that
Nubians dislocated by the construction of the new dams would
not be allowed to resettle in the areas of new irrigation.

6. (SBU) Dr. Sabbar claimed that the construction of the two
dams would cause the dislocation of 74,000 Nubians. He said
further that he is convinced that the Khartoum government
would not compensate those dislocated. Populations of
Nubians deplaced from previous dam construction have not been
compensated, he stated, but rather have been moved to areas
where they are under threat of being assimilated into the
Arabic speaking population.

7. (SBU) The two representatives claimed that 15,000 to
20,000 Nubians demonstrated against the Kajbar dam project in
April. They stated that three Nubians had been injured by the
police in the course of the demonstration. When pressed, they
confirmed that the population of the villages in the area is
only in the range of 3,000 to 4,000. But they said that buses
had been organized to bring Nubians in from Khartoum. When
asked who had paid for the buses, food and accommodation,
they replied that the people involved had paid themselves.

BERNSTIEN

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