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The Cairo press has once again featured the Nubian desire to live near the Nile River in Upper Egypt. An article last week in the Daily News Egypt indicates that some Nubians, exiled nearly half a century ago from their homes before the construction of the Aswan High Dam, are still eager to resume farming along the dammed Nile River in southern Egypt. They hope the land they resettle on will be good enough for them to have adequate homes and farming possibilities.

Much of the article consists of an interview with Mousad (or Musaad) Herki, director of the Nubian Club in Cairo. Herki organized a successful conference in March this year that won commitments from officials to allow some Nubians to move into communities being developed on the rim of Lake Nasser, the reservoir formed by the Aswan Dam. There, many of the unemployed Nubians hope to farm once again. Herki told the paper that currently 5,000 homes are under construction in the planned villages on a 10,000 acre site. The cost of the project is 200 million Egyptian pounds (US$35.7 million).

The news report emphasized that the Nubians are quite familiar with government promises over the decades of adequate housing and farm lands near the Nile. Neither has happened yet, and the people have a skeptical attitude. “Many Nubians are now waiting in disbelief for their repatriation, thinking that none of these projects will ever see daylight,” Herki said. Their decades-old skepticism is due to the arbitrary ways government bodies have handled their complaints in the past.

Herki reviewed Nubian complaints with the paper. The land that was provided for them at Nasr El Nuba, north of Aswan, when they were forced to move in the late 1950s, was totally inadequate as a construction site. A few years after the villagers settled in and attempted to begin new lives, their homes began to develop serious cracks and started to sink into the soil.

Herki is more optimistic about the development under construction. He says that the agencies and the developers have a “sincere will … to make a fresh start in the new villages around Lake Nasser.” Other economic activities will complement the farming planned for the new communities, he indicated. The construction of a road south to Sudan plus the establishment of a customs post should provide employment to the area.