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500 more palms burn in Sudan’s Northern State

August 30 - 2017 HALFA
Palm trees burn easily as they are rich in oil. Dry fronds also encourage the flames (File photo)
Palm trees burn easily as they are rich in oil. Dry fronds also encourage the flames (File photo)

At least 500 palm treed were destroyed in a fire that swept through the groves of the Morka area on Sai Island in Sudan’s far north. Nubian activist Ashraf Abdelwedoud told Radio Dabanga that the fire destroyed those few palms that survived a fire that destroyed 11,0000 palms in the area three weeks ago.

Abdelwedoud told Radio Dabanga that the fire started north of the grand mosque and continued to the end of the village yesterday morning. Sai Island is in Lake Nubia which straddles the Sudan-Egypt border.

He described the recurrence of fires in the area as suspicious and accused “unknown parties of masterminding the fires to evacuate the area of its population in order to pass the building plans of Dal and Kajbar dams”.

He said that the authorities filed the source of the fire as ‘unknown’ as in previous fires, explaining that the civil defence could not extinguish the fire because of the lack of fuel.

The Nubian development corporation and the resistance of the construction of Dal Dam issued a report stating that fire has destroyed 185,032 palm trees and estimated losses at more than SDG 18 billion during the period from 2006 to 2014.

Meanwhile, government statistics earlier reported the burning of 200,000 palm trees during the past three years.

The Nubian corporation’s report criticised the government for not investigating the facts nor publishing the results of the investigations, and filing the cause of fires against unknown persons.

It criticised the authorities for being reluctant to play their part in extinguishing the fire and not compensating those affected.

Arson

The population of the Northern State is largely dependent on palm dates for their income. Yet, according to statistics from the Nubian Development Committee, about 250,000 palms were destroyed by fire between 2005 and 2016.

Local activists suspect arson and link the incidents to the resistance by the Nubians living in the region against the Dal, Kajbar, and El Shereik hydro dams planned to be constructed in the area.

They say that the government intends to eliminate the palm tree plantations to ensure a low compensation for the palm owners who will loose their land because of the dams.

In June, more than 1,500 palm trees and at least six water engines were destroyed in an extensive fire that broke out at Koka near Dongola, capital of Northern State. In May, flames consumed about 500 trees in Artemi Island in Dolgo. In April, a major fire in the palm-rich Sai Island, north of Abri, destroyed hundreds of palms.


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