Nubians disappointed at Al-Sisi’s Youth Conference discussions in Asawn

The heads of the Nubian Return Caravan together with other Nubians expressed their disappointment at the decision made related to their issues during Al-Sisi’s second National Youth Conference in Aswan.

The Nubians said that some decisions taken during the conference regarding the Nubians lands were welcomed, but they did not address their core demand regarding their right to return to their lands.

In this context, the head of the General Nubian Union in Aswan, Mohamed Azmy said that he expected that Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has chosen Aswan to be the place to host the conference in order to take the opportunity to address the Nubian issue.

Azmy also said that he expected Al-Sisi to visit the disputed areas in order to discuss the situation with Nubian residents.

He also commented on the decisions made regarding Nubia in the conference and said that some of the decisions were in their interest, but that he was still waiting for “a presidential decree allowing Nubians to resettle in disputed lands, as was previously promised and is in accordance to Article 236 of the Constitution.”

In fact, a decision was made to establish an authority to develop Upper Egypt governorates during the conference.

“The government should focus primarily on resettling Nubians before forming this authority, adding that,”Nubians do not mind if the government tasked the authority to return Nubians,”according to Azmy.

Despite al-Sisi said that the state was concerned about the Nubian issue, and assigned his assistant for national projects Ibrahim Mehleb to actively work on the issue.

However, among all the decisions he mentioned, the main two demands of the Nubians were not on the list.

Accordingly, Mohamed Shaaban, member of the Nubian Return Caravan,pointed that the Nubian issue was not considered essential in the conference, as it was only addressed on the sidelines of the conference.

In addition, he said that the Nubians were only informed of the conference two days in advance.

He also expressed his disappointment regarding the decision and mentioned that Mehleb’s committee, which works on the Nubian issue, ignores the concerns expressed by the Nubians as it has been working without inviting Nubians to express their concerns.

In his closing speech,al-Sisi warned against groups attempting to create disputes between the people and government.

In fact, it was not clear if these groups included the caravan that recently arranged a number of protests to call for the rights of Nubians.

Shaaban commented on statements that warned people from groups attempting to divide the country and the people in Nubia, saying that “this is not the way the issue will be solved.”

Last November,“The Nubian Return Caravan”, is a convoy organized by a group of Egyptian Nubian activists,suspended a four-day protest following an agreement with the cabinet to give the government a chance to fulfill their demands.

On 19 November, Nubians from all over the country headed in 25 buses to Toshka and Forkund villages to start a sit-in against a presidential decree to allocate land in both villages for investment development.

In August, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a presidential decree allocating 922 feddans — including land in Toshka area — to the new Toshka development project.

“In October, the Egyptian government announced that it would sell parts of the new Toshka development project in an auction for investment as part of the 1.5 million feddans, a new national mega-project,” said al-Ahram(Egypt’s state owned newspaper).

The government’s announcement has angered the Nubian activists who said that thousands of feddans that belonged to old Nubian villages were allocated to the 1.5 million project and will be sold to investors.

Also, they had objected to another presidential decree, that was issued in December 2014, designating masses of lands along border areas as army territory that should not be populated.

Among those pieces of land are 16 old Nubian villages that activists demand to return to.

In fact, Nubia stretched for about 350 kilometers from Dabud village to the south of Aswan to Adendan village in the Halfa Valley in modern-day Sudan.

Nubians says that there are 44 old Nubian villages from which they were forcibly displaced during the construction of the Aswan High Dam in 1960s.