| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Nile dam crisis: Egypt says millions will ‘suffer’ if Ethiopia continues water filling

Egypt and Sudan would be left to “suffer” from reduced and erratic water supplies if a second filling of the Nile Dam in Ethiopia goes ahead this summer, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation said on Monday.

Both nations would be impacted if the river’s flood this year proves to be average or low, the ministry said, highlighting what it alleged was a serious design flaw in the dam.

An escalating row over the dam’s construction has led to mounting international fears that a military stand-off over the dam could occur.

In a letter to the United Nations Security Council last week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said that the second filling would cause “great if not disastrous harm” to Egypt and Sudan and warned that failure to reach an agreement with Ethiopia would raise regional tension and pose a threat to international peace and security.

A highly technical statement from Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry said on Monday that last year’s first filling was designed for “media and political purposes” rather than a technical necessity.

This was because last year, the hydroelectric dam was not ready to generate electricity, a situation which would not change when the next filling is due.

Monday night’s statement came as a decade of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the dam were deadlocked with the two Afro-Arab nations unable to persuade Ethiopia to enter a legally-binding deal on the filling and the operation of the dam.

Cairo and Khartoum have also failed to persuade Ethiopia to allow a quartet of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and the African Union (AU) to mediate in the dispute.

There has been no progress in the negotiations since the AU began sponsoring them nearly a year ago, but Addis Ababa wants the AU to remain as the sole party with a say in the process, beside the three nations.