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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

Egypt Mobilizes UN Support for its Position on GERD

Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hani Suweilam speaks at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York. (Egyptian government)

Cairo is continuing its efforts to garner support from the international community for its position against Addis Ababa's construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile.

Egypt has been outraged over Ethiopia’s ongoing construction of the dam without reaching a prior agreement from basin countries, including itself and Sudan, on its operation and storage of water.

Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hani Suweilam spoke on Thursday at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York about the “damage” his country expects from the dam.

Egypt fears that its share of the waters of the Nile will be affected by the GERD that Ethiopia has been building since 2011 on the main tributary of the river.

Cairo and Khartoum are calling for a binding legal agreement that regulates the filling and operation of the dam, while Ethiopia is pushing for the construction of the hydroelectric dam, claiming its right to development by exploiting its water resources.

“The building of the dam has been ongoing with no consultation and without conducting adequate studies on safety or its economic, social and environmental effects on the riparian countries,” Suweilam stressed.

“These unilateral, non-cooperative practices violate international law and are not inconsistent with the Security Council’s 2021 presidential statement,” he said.

The continued construction of the dam poses an existential threat to millions of Egyptians and could have a disastrous effect.

On Wednesday, the minister addressed the main session of the UN Water Conference.

He highlighted the negative impact left by GERD on Egypt, stressing that “effective management of collective water resources is indispensable, especially since nearly 40% of the world's population lives on collective river and lake basins.”

He said Egypt relies almost exclusively on the shared waters of the Nile River, adding that it respects the importance of regional cooperation that considers the interests of all parties.

“We always seek to enhance cooperation and coordination between the various countries of the Nile basin,” Suweilam stated.

In New York, the minister met with his counterparts from India, France, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, in addition to the US President's Special Envoy for Water Resources and Biodiversity.

He spoke of Egypt’s efforts to highlight water issues, citing its hosting of five editions of Cairo Water Week and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27).

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