UN urges concerned states to resolve differences on GERD amid reports on dam filling

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Thu, 16 Jul 2020 - 12:55 GMT

FILE - United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres - Reuters

FILE - United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres - Reuters

CAIRO – 16 July 2020: The United Nations calls on Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to work on resolving differences on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the coming days and reach a mutual agreement, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric quoted the secretary general as saying.

 

Secretary General António Guterres said an agreement on GERD should be “mutually beneficial” for the peoples of the three countries, Reuters reported, quoting Dujarric.

 

This comes as Ethiopian media on Wednesday claimed that the country has started filling the $4 billion dam, quoting the Water Minister as saying that “the construction of the dam and the filling of the water go hand in hand,” Reuters reported.

 

Later on the same day, Ethiopia’s Water Minister Sileshi Bekele denied the media reports, saying to The Associated Press that heavy rains are the reason for what has been shown by satellite images as the swelling of the dam’s reservoir.

 

On his unverified Twitter account, Bekele said the “inflow into the reservoir [is] due to heavy rainfall and runoff exceeded the outflow and created natural pooling. This continues until overflow is triggered soon.”

 

Amid reports of dam filling, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has requested an “urgent official clarification” from the Ethiopian government.

 

“Egypt continues to follow up on the developments on what has been circulated by media around this issue,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

 

Endorsing reports on dam filling, the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources affirmed that the Blue River water level at the border with Ethiopia declined by 90 million cubic meters daily.

 

Sudan added that the measurements indicated that the Ethiopian Renaissance dam’s gates were closed, preventing millions of cubic meters of water.

 

“Some local and international media outlets reported information and satellite images indicate that Ethiopia has started filling the Renaissance Dam with water before reaching a deal on the first [phase] of filling and the operation,” the Sudanese ministry said in a statement.

 

“The Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources asked its concerned bodies to measure the level of Blue river to investigate the accuracy of such information. It became crystal clear, throughout measuring the water level at Al-Daim border station with Ethiopia, that there is a decline in water level equivalent to 90 million cubic meters daily and that confirms the closure of Renaissance Dam’s gates,” the statement read.

 

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Monday that the negotiations on GERD between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia will continue as per the African Union vision; however, the parties still did not reach an agreement.

 

He said in press statements that the current negotiations did not achieve any progress or an agreement with the Ethiopian part.

 

Shoukry added that a report shall be submitted to the African Union, then a meeting between the presidents of the three countries shall be held to realize an agreement.

 

The Sudanese government said Tuesday that the country submitted a report on the GERD to the African Union after the end of the negotiations between the ministers of irrigation of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopian.

 

The report mentioned that not much progress was achieved during the negotiations that lasted 11 days.

 

Egypt's FM: Ethiopia's GERD endangers lives of 150M Egyptian, Sudanese citizens

CAIRO - 30 June 2020: Egypt says that the construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) endangered the lives of more than 150 million Egyptians and Sudanese citizens amid absences of guarantees on the safety of the Ethiopian dam on the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan.]

 

Unilateral Move

In June, the Sudanese Foreign Minister Asmaa Mohamed Abdullah said in a statement that the latest round of negotiations on the Ethiopian dam between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia achieved noticeable progress on the technical level.

 

Abdullah said that a dispute remains between the three states as a political consensus is not reached yet to continue the negotiations. She added that the file has been referred to the Prime Ministers of the three countries to end this political dispute.

 

The minister asserted Sudan’s rejection to any unilateral move and any Ethiopian decision to start filling the dam without the approval of the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan.

 

In his speech at the Security Council meeting on the dam, the Egyptian Foreign Minister denounced absence of guarantees on the safety of the Ethiopian dam on the downstream countries - Egypt and Sudan -.

 

“While we recognize the importance of this project to the developmental objectives of the Ethiopian people, a goal that we share and support, it is essential to realize that this mega-dam, which is Africa’s largest hydropower facility, potentially threatens the welfare, wellbeing, and existence of millions of Egyptian and Sudanese citizens,” Shoukry said.

 

“Therefore, the unilateral filling and operation of this dam, without an agreement that includes the necessary precautions to protect downstream communities and to prevent the infliction of significant harm on their riparian rights, would heighten tensions and could provoke crises and conflicts that further destabilize an already troubled region.”

 

“As a responsible stakeholder, Egypt elected to bring this matter to the attention of the Security Council to forestall further escalation and to ensure that unilateral actions do not undermine efforts to reach an agreement on the GERD or prejudice the riparian rights and interests of downstream states, or, more alarmingly, to endanger the lives of almost 150 million Egyptian and Sudanese citizens, thereby generating greater tension in an unstable region.”

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