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Egypt official: 'We do not expect UNSC to resolve dam crisis'

Construction machinery stands in the center of the dam wall at the site of the under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. [Zacharias Abubeker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
Construction machinery stands in the center of the dam wall at the site of the under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. [Zacharias Abubeker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

An Egyptian official revealed that his country was not waiting for the UN Security Council to find solutions to the Renaissance Dam crisis, stressing that the international body did not take part in solving any of the issues submitted by Egypt at any point.

Egypt's permanent representative to the United Nations, Mohamed Idris, said in a telephone interview via DMC TV that "Egypt addressed the Security Council with regard to three critical and vital issues, including the evacuation issue, the post-1967 land issue, and finally the Renaissance Dam crisis," noting that the Security Council "did not participate in solving any of these problems."

Idris added: "If the council was the solution, then why did not we resort to it ten years ago? Of course, because we are aware that the council is not the solution, but it is rather a part of a path that we took after engaging in negotiations for a long time without reaching a settlement, so we went to the council to present our cause."

"Egypt's decision to go to the UN Security Council was meant to clarify that the track that has been undertaken by the African Union has not succeeded after a full year of negotiations," he explained.

Highlighting the matter at the UNSC raises its member states' level of political commitment regarding the issue, he added.

Last week, UN Security Council members supported the African Union's mediation efforts between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan in the conflict over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and urged all parties to resume talks.

READ: 100m Egyptians at risk of going thirsty

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.

There is also an unresolved issue over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.

Earlier this month Ethiopia informed downstream countries Egypt and Sudan that it had started the second phase of filling the dam's reservoir in an effort to take advantage of the rainy season. Egypt responded saying: "Addis Ababa is violating international laws and norms, and is treating the River Nile as its own property."

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