Northern Sudan is one of the country's most marginalized regions. It's currently home to the largest hydroelectric construction project in Africa - the Merowe Dam. While the dam has the potential to drastically increase electricity production for Sudan, the project has come at a massive human cost, forcibly displacing thousands of people from their communities.
Over the past few weeks, I've heard from international aid agencies operating in Sudan that government officials were escalating their pattern of repression in the region by blocking humanitarian access to the populations forced out by recent flooding caused by the dam. A report I received today from the NGO International Rivers is even more disturbing:
We just learned that Uta Simon, a representative of the UN's Khartoum
Monitoring Mission, was arrested today while she was visiting the
area which is currently being flooded by the Merowe Dam. We learned
from contacts in Sudan that Uta and two fellow travellers were
arrested at 2:45 pm local time in Kabna village, Nile State, by Nile
State police forces. Villagers suspect that Uta and her colleagues
were brought to Adama town....
The Sudanese authorities have closed the affected area off to aid agencies, journalists and presumably the UN. UN Special Envoy Sima Simar was prevented from visiting the Merowe project area in the past....
The arrest of Uta Simon and her colleagues is a scandalous attempt to prevent any relief and support from reaching the people affected by the Merowe Dam. It is also a blatant interference in the UN's humanitarian mission.
Learn more about the current situation in Merowe at the blog of Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers.