Sudan has requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to examine a dispute over Ethiopia’s construction of a massive dam on the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia is banking on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for economic development and electricity generation, while Egypt and Sudan, the dam’s downstream neighbors, are concerned and want a firm agreement on the dam’s filling and functioning. Egypt relies on the Nile River for up to 90% of its fresh water and views the dam as a threat to its existence.
Sudan is concerned about the operation of its own Nile dams and water treatment facilities. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi called on the Security Council to convene as soon as possible to consider GERD and its “effect on the safety and security of millions of people.”
In a letter to the council’s head, al-Mahdi urged him to push Ethiopia to halt the dam’s “unilateral” filling, which he described as “exacerbating the issue and posing a threat to regional and international peace and security.” Officials in Ethiopia have yet to respond to the letter.
After African Union-sponsored discussions remained stalled earlier this month, Sudan and Egypt committed to working together on all levels to pressure Ethiopia to engage “seriously” on a deal.
Both countries have appealed to the international community to step in. Arab governments have requested that the Security Council consider the disagreement and Ethiopia’s plans to proceed with the dam’s second filling this summer even if Sudan and Egypt do not reach an agreement. Ethiopia has vehemently opposed the Arab League’s resolution.
Maged Abdel Fattah, the Arab League’s UN envoy, stated on Tuesday evening that Sudan and Egypt are working on a draught Security Council resolution on GERD if Ethiopia does not reach an agreement.
Fattah told Egyptian TV channel Sada Elbalad that Arab governments will campaign for the draught resolution to be accepted, and that he does not anticipate foreign powers to stop it.
Egypt and Sudan had previously asked Ethiopia to employ mediators outside the African Union, but Ethiopia had refused.
Sudan had previously stated that it was open to a temporary interim deal on the multibillion-dollar project provided certain conditions were met.