The UN Security Council is meeting Thursday to consider a resolution on giant hydroelectric dam being built by Ethiopia, which Egypt and Sudan say will block water access to millions of people downstream.
Egypt and Sudan called for a Security Council meeting because of what they consider an existential threat coming from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being built on the main tributary of the Nile River.
The 15-member Security Council will hear from the foreign ministers of Egypt and Sudan, as well as Ethiopia’s water minister.
Egypt, depends on the Nile for most of its drinking and agriculture water needs, and Sudan, has expressed concern about the dam’s safety and the impact on its own dams and water stations.
Ethiopia says the dam is crucial for its power needs and economic development, and insists it will not affect the onward flow of water.
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Egypt has backed a resolution drafted by Tunisia that asks Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to resume negotiations to finales a legally-binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam within six months.
The draft says the deal must ensure “Ethiopia’s ability to generate hydropower … while preventing the inflicting of significant harm on the water security of downstream states.”
It would urge Ethiopia “to refrain from continuing to unilaterally fill” the dam’s reservoir and call on Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia “to refrain from making any statements, or taking any action that may jeopardize the negotiation process.”
Ethiopia has warned that a Security Council resolution would hinder African Union-led mediation between the three countries.
The Arab League has backed UN intervention in the dispute, and the United Arab Emirates is one of the ten non-permanent members of the Security Council
Saudi Arabia said it supports Egypt and Sudan in “preserving their legitimate water rights,” state news agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.
Ethiopia started a second filling of the dam’s reservoir on Wednesday. The dam is nearly complete, and is expected to reach full capacity in 2023.