July 8, 2019

Thirteen Egyptian human rights organisations have issued a joint statement calling on the Egyptian authorities to respect their obligations under the constitution and international law for the protection of indigenous and tribal people. These enable Nubians to return to their original lands and develop them through various compensation mechanisms.

In their joint statement, the organisations said that the Nubians’ compensation of alternative housing or land was not an alternative to the right of resettlement. Resettlement is not only a constitutional obligation, but also an integral part of Nubian heritage and identity and the core of their struggle to extract recognition of their rights, suffering and displacement, which has been ongoing for years.

The organisations affirmed that Egyptian authorities have adopted policies and decisions that undermine these rights, starting with Presidential Decree No. 444 of 2014. This decree considers the lands of 16 Nubian villages as military border lands where civilians cannot live. Decree No. 498 of 2016 ratified the confiscation of large parts of Nubian lands in favour of the one and a half million acres project. Law No. 157 of 2018, on the establishment of the Upper Egypt Development Authority, undermined the hopes of the Nubians, disregarding any mention of Nubian emigration or their right to return to their lands.

The organisations said that Nubians rights are provided for constitutionally and they have the right to a state grant but they have been completely absent from any discussions on a resolution. 

Resolutions have not mentioned any mechanism to challenge the committees’ assessment of due compensation or value, only the right to appeal before the committee and not to eliminate the names of those eligible for compensation. The resolution didn’t define the type of compensation and does not include the option of returning to their original land.

The organisations called on the Egyptian parliament “to respect the constitutional obligation stipulated in Article 236, and the speed of issuing the law establishing the Supreme Commission for the resettlement, reconstruction and development of the original Nuba country.”

The Egyptian President should repeal decision No. 444 of 2014 which allocated the lands of 16 Nubian villages as military border lands, and resolutions Nos. 355 and 498 of 2016, which agree to confiscate large parts of Nubian land in favour of the one and a half million acre project. Regarding No. 157 of 2018, authorities should comply with the Egyptian constitution, and specifically Article 236 to honour the right of the Nubians to return to their land.