Home | News    Tuesday 27 February 2007

Sudan’s Merowe requests to stop excavating reservoir area


Feb 26, 2007 (LONDON) — Representatives of the communities that will be flooded by Sudan’s Merowe Dam have requested that archaeologists excavating the reservoir area should leave immediately.

The request follows the failure of the government to honour an
undertaking that archaeological treasures salvaged from the reservoir
area would not be removed to distant museums.

The dam will flood many remains of the Cush kingdom, which stretched
from the Nile to Palestine more than 5000 years ago, the Leadership Office of the Hamadab Affected People (LOHAP) said.

The treasures will be lost forever to the dam’s reservoir. The local
communities are not opposed to the salvage operation - but insist that
saved artifacts should be housed in a local museum in line with an
agreement reached with the government.

Mohmed Abdulahi Sidahmed, the head of affected people sub-committee for
archeology and antiquities says " The Government of the Nile State and
the National Department of Antiquities have failed to honour the
commitments they made with the Manasir community regarding the
archaeological works. The Mansir don’t want their history to be given to
other communities therefore they agreed with the Government of Nile
State and Department of National Antiquities that a museum should be
built in the Manasir area to house the archaeological remains. To do
this, all parties agreed to setup a joint technical committee to
supervise archaeological works. However,the government of Nile state has
failed to take any measures to honour what has been agreed. It is the
decision of the Council of the affected Manasir that all archaeological
work should be stopped until the government honours its commitment"

Ali Askouri, a member of the Manasir Committee says: " The failure to
honour agreements has characterized every aspect of this dam. The
government just makes false promises. The affected people are now tired
of deception. Since the start of the dam, the authorities promised to
build the museum in the Manasir area and set-up the technical committee
with the participation of the affected communities. However, for the
last six years nothing has materialized. The archaeological treasures
are to be placed in a museum in another area and our history is being
given to another community".

A meeting held on 18th February between the sub-committee representing
the affected community and a team of archaeologists from Cologne
University, led by Bettina Pertick, failed to agree on the resumption of
archaeological works. Sources close to the committee said: " The
archaeologists explained to the committee the importance of excavating
the sites due to their irreplaceable historical value. The
archaeologists were also worried that sites of unique history will be
inundated next flood season when the reservoir starts filling."

Eight archaeological teams have been working in the area. Those from
Germany, Czech Republic and Canada have now left to return home.

Merowe dam on the Fourth cataracts of the River Nile in Northern Sudan,
is financed by Chinese Exim Bank and Arab funds. The 174 km long dam
reservoir will inundate a historically rich area, which is still largely
unexcavated according to British museum.

Since its start, the dam project has been marred with massive human
rights abuses. In April 2006, three people were shot dead by the dam
security when they refused relocation.


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