Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Chinese Dam Project Fuels Ethnic Conflict in Sudan

New Chinese Dam Project Fuels Ethnic Conflict in Sudan
International Rivers
January 21, 2011

The Sudanese government has contracted Sinohydro to build the Kajbar Dam
on the third cataract of the Nile. The project would flood lands of
ancient Nubia and displace an estimated 10,000 people. With support from
International Rivers, the affected communities are calling on the
Chinese company to withdraw from the contract. They warn that if built,
the dam could unleash a second Darfur conflict.

Proposed to be built near Kajbar village in Northern Sudan, the new dam
would generate electricity at a capacity of 360 megawatts. It would also
create a reservoir of 110 square kilometers, submerge some 90 villages,
and destroy an estimated 500 archeological sites. Much of Nubia's
territory had already been lost to the reservoir of the Aswan Dam. Yet
another project, the Dal Dam, has been proposed to be built on the
Nile's second cataract. The construction of the Kajbar and Dal dams
would bring the Nubian culture, which dates back over more than 5,000
years, closer to extinction.

The affected people are strongly opposed to the construction of the
Kajbar and Dal dams. A statement of the committee of affected villages
declares: "We will never allow any force on the earth to destroy our
heritage and nation. Nubians will not sacrifice for the second time to
repeat the tragedy of the Aswan Dam."

The government never officially informed or consulted the affected
people about the projects. In April and June 2007, security forces
brutally cracked down on peaceful protests against the planned Kajbar
Dam, killing four and wounding more than 20 people. The UN Special
Rapporteur on Sudan deplored the "excessive force" and "arbitrary
arrests and prosecutions to stifle community protest against the Kajbar
dam" in a report in 2008.

The villagers just learned that the Sudanese government in October 2010
awarded a $705 million, five-year contract to build the Kajbar Dam to
the Chinese company Sinohydro. Sinoyhdro, the world's largest hydropower
contractor, was also involved in the construction of the Merowe Dam,
upstream of the proposed Kajbar site. The Merowe Dam was built in
2003-2009 under massive human rights violations.

Chinese government institutions and Sinoydro have in recent years made
repeated commitments to friendly relations with host communities in
their overseas projects. China has also voted in favor of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which gives indigenous
peoples, including the Nubians, the right to consent to projects in
their territories.

In support of the affected people of the Kajbar region, International
Rivers calls on Sinohydro to withdraw from the Kajbar project. "Building
the Kajbar Dam would make Sinohydro complicit in the government's human
rights violations, and would fly in the face of China's commitments to
improved community relations," says Peter Bosshard, policy director of
International Rivers.

A background text on the Kajbar Dam with links to all sources of
information and a map of dams in Sudan is available at

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