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Al-Azhar urges global response to resolve Nile crisis

June 17, 2021 at 1:31 pm

The Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb on 4 February 2019 [VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images]

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb called on the world to assume its responsibility, stressing on the importance of action and standing together by Egypt and Sudan in their endeavour to preserve their rights to Nile waters.

In a strongly worded statement, El-Tayeb demanded the international community “confront the claims made by some parties of owning the Nile and monopolising the river’s resources in a way that harms the lives of the peoples of the two countries [Egypt and Sudan].”

Adding that ownership of the natural resources necessary to maintain the lives of people, like rivers, is communal, and cannot be exclusively used by an individual or state.

“Monopolising and limiting or restricting  others’ access to  water resources constitutes a theft of one of the rights guaranteed to humans by Allah Almighty,” he added. “Whoever breaks the rules of the creator in this regard shall be considered unjust and an aggressor; and the local, regional and international authorities must take charge of the situation and protect the rights of people from this transgression and corruption.”

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He warned of what he called the disastrous consequences of what is happening, saying: “If this door is opened, it will have disastrous consequences on world peace, because some rivers flow through more than five countries. Can anyone imagine if it will be exclusively taken over by one country?!”

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn’t and issued a statement to this effect.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry has stressed that the second filling of the Renaissance Dam reservoir “will take place on time” during the upcoming rainy season in July.