Ethiopia’s controversial Nile dam: deal possible, UN says

Published on :

A UN Security Council meeting at the request of Tunisia on behalf of Egypt and Sudan was held on Thursday over the controversial Ethiopian dam on the Nile. As Cairo accuses Ethiopia of threatening its existence, an agreement can be reached, according to the director of the United Nations Environment Program.

An agreement on the controversial Ethiopian dam on the Nile is possible between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, with mutual trust, the UN said Thursday (July 8).

“An agreement on the GERD (The Great Renaissance Dam) can be reached,” assured Inger Andersen, director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), at a meeting of the Security Council organized at the Tunisia’s request on behalf of Cairo and Khartoum. “To reach an optimal agreement, trust, transparency and commitment will be essential,” she added.

“Although progress was made in many areas during the negotiations, no consensus was reached on some critical aspects, including arrangements for the management of prolonged droughts, upstream and downstream planning of GERD and a dispute settlement mechanism “, regretted the official.

“Existential threat”

The GERD dam “is an existential threat” for Egypt, stressed its foreign minister Sameh Choukri, calling for “a legally binding agreement allowing Ethiopia to achieve its development goals”. The management of the crisis by the African Union is at an impasse, the minister also said, calling for the adoption by the Security Council of a draft resolution proposed by Tunisia.

According to him, this text is “balanced and constructive”. Obtained by AFP, this project requires a resolution of the conflict within six months, an end by Ethiopia of the filling of the reservoir of the dam, and an inclusion in the Council’s program of this overdue file since 2011.

“If its survival is threatened, Egypt will have no choice but to defend and protect its inherent right to life guaranteed by law,” Sameh Choukri warned, without further details.

His Sudanese counterpart, Mariam al-Sadeq Al Mahdi, not to mention the draft resolution, said his country was “asking for help” from the Security Council to find a legally binding agreement. Silence would be interpreted as a green light for Ethiopia to continue filling the dam reservoir, she warned.

“Set of challenges”

Ethiopia, which considered that the conflict did not threaten international peace and security and regretted that the Security Council was debating it, had chosen for its part to be represented by its Minister of Water and Irrigation and Energy.

The objections of Cairo and Khartoum “are not directed against GERD but rather aim to stop all use of water by Ethiopia”, lamented this minister, Seleshi Bekele Awulachew. “Unlike Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia does not have significant groundwater reserves,” he said.

Call for calm

UN envoy for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga called on “all parties to deal with the issue constructively and to avoid any statements that would increase tensions in a region already facing a series of challenges” .

“Each of the countries sharing the waters of the Nile has both rights and responsibilities, and the use and management of this natural resource requires the continued commitment of all the nations involved, in good faith, with a view to achieving a common ground, ”he argued.

In their interventions, the members of the Security Council all encouraged the three countries to overcome their differences towards an agreement under the aegis of the African Union.

Ethiopia’s GERD has been the subject since the start of its construction in 2011 of a latent conflict with Egypt and Sudan, which fear for their water resources. Ethiopia, which intends to refill its reservoir in July and August, assures that the dam is vital for the energy needs of its 110 million inhabitants.

With AFP

1 thought on “Ethiopia’s controversial Nile dam: deal possible, UN says”


Comments are closed.