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Sudan calls for UN Security Council intervention on Ethiopia’s plan to fill the dam

Sudan is seeking UN Security Council intervention on filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) until agreement is reached. Ethiopia plans to start filling in a month.

by Bernabas Shiferaw
June 3, 2020

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry sent a letter yesterday to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) calling on the council to put pressure on both Ethiopia and Egypt to not to take a unilateral actions concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). It emphasize on Ethiopia to delay its plan to fill the dam until an agreement has been reached between all the three countries.  

Sudan’s letter came following the involvement of the UNSC in the matter by Egypt’s initial appeal in an attempt to put pressure on Ethiopia and the subsequent response by Ethiopia. Sudan’s Minister of foreign affairs said that Sudan decided to voice its perspective regarding the matter as it has a national interest in it. 

The letter expounds on the significance of the Nile to Sudan mentioning, among other things, that 70 percent of the irrigation in Sudan has Nile as its source of water. It also describes historical, cultural, and economic significance of the Nile to the peoples of the region. 

While acknowledging Ethiopia’s right to utilize its natural resources, Sudan has stressed the need for consultation and cooperation among the three countries in order to avoid the harm lower stream countries could suffer as a result of Ethiopia’s activities. 

Concerning the GERD, Sudan highlighted the benefits and threats that could follow its construction. It acknowledged the benefits the dam could have in helping manage periodic flooding and in raising Sudan’s capacity to generate Electric power. 

On the other hand, Sudan claimed that the construction of the dam could change the flow line of the river and that it could affect Sudanese citizens negatively if the design, construction, and filling works are not followed daily and closely. 

Thus, agreements need to be reached with Ethiopia concerning these matters and these agreements should include the filling and daily activities of construction and operation of the dam. “Otherwise,” reads the letter, “the dam presents Sudan with great danger.”

Concerning previous negotiations and agreements between the three countries, Sudan has highlighted talks held since the dam’s inception in 2011, which it credits for narrowing the differences between the countries. It mentions the ‘Declaration of Principles’ signed in 2015 as one of the major achievements of these talks. 

“These talks had continued (recently) with the USA and World Bank playing the role of observers. However,” says Sudan, “the war of words that broke out between Ethiopia and Egypt through press conferences given by their officials brought the discussion to a stop.” 

It is stated in the letter that Sudan has taken the lead to bring the two countries back to the discussion table, mentioning its role in initiating the video conference between the prime ministers of all three countries that took place two weeks before as an example. 

On Ethiopia’s side, preparations are underway to start filling in July as per its original plan. Many commentators are urging the government to bring the issue before the AU and other African entities and have objected to the involvement of the USA, the World Bank, and the UNSC. These suggestions stem from their understanding that talks involving non-African entities are dominated by interests of the great world powers and the issue is bound to be further complicated than peacefully resolved.

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  1. The worst the United Nations can do to Ethiopia is sanction Ethiopia which is not so bad compared to how much loss Ethiopia will suffer by giving up the Abay water rights to Sudan’s and Egypt’s demands.

    Ethiopia will not loose much if UN sanctions Ethiopia but Ethiopia will loose a lot more if Ethiopia does submit to Egypt’s and Sudan’s demands about GERD and about the Nile water.


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