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Egypt's Nubians continue to demand right of return

Plans to build and expand dams have not, for years, taken the Nubians’ land, heritage and culture into consideration, but is there still hope for the cultural minority?
Members of a Nubian folk group perform a prayer December 10 in front of the ancient temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Luxor. In a bid to clean up all signs of the grisley killing of 58 foreign tourists by Moslem militants last month, Egypt held an obituary ceremony at Luxors Hatshepsut temple, the site of the massacre.

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CAIRO — It’s been 51 years since the Nubians were displaced from their land of origin, after the Aswan High Dam waters flooded more than 60 of their villages in 1964. Back then, the Egyptian government was determined to relocate everyone during the dam construction and said that they could go back to their villages once the construction of the dam was complete. Yet the government has not met its promise so far, said Ashraf Osman, head of the Nubia Supreme Council, in an interview with Al-Monitor.

Under the rule of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian government embarked on the construction of the High Dam and the Aswan High Dam Reservoir in order to protect Egypt from the risk of flooding from the Nile River and to generate electricity. These achievements came, however, at the expense of the more than 135,000 Nubians who had been displaced from their land where they had lived for thousands of years.

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