In a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Sudan said that it is “deeply concerned” about Ethiopia’s decision to start filling its controversial dam on the Blue Nile without prior agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt’s southern neighbor urged the international body to “discourage” all parties from any “unilateral action.”
According to the letter, Khartoum said the unilateral filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will put the operation of the Sudanese Roseires dam, whose reservoir is located 15 km away from the Ethiopian dam, and the lives of millions of people living downstream at “a very high risk.”
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia
“Sudan is deeply concerned about Ethiopia’s decision to start filling the GERD reservoir in the absence of an agreement,” said the letter by Sudan’s Foreign Minister Asmaa Mohamed Abdallah.
Sudan’s letter to the UNSC came after Egypt sent a letter to the Security Council on 19 June requesting its intervention to resolve the dam dispute with Ethiopia.
Khartoum called upon Cairo and Addis Ababa to adopt a draft agreement it proposed during talks earlier this month as a basis for finalising a deal. The agreement would regulate the filling and long-term operation of the GERD and adopt drought mitigation and safety measures.
Egypt’s letter to the Security Council came after talks stalled last week and Addis Ababa declared it will go ahead with the filling of the dam in July, even without a deal.
In its letter to the UNSC, Khartoum said that despite the potential positive impacts of the Ethiopian dam on Sudan, including increased hydropower generation and better management of the country’s irrigation system, the project can carry “substantial risks” without an agreement regulating its operation and filling.
Those negative impacts include threatening the operational safety of Sudanese dams and the flood-plain agricultural system of Khartoum as well as possible socioeconomic and environmental harms, it said.
Khartoum believes “there has to be an agreement in place with Ethiopia on how it intends to fill and operate GERD, otherwise the GERD stands to cause substantial risks to Sudan.”
Sudan said the GERD “will completely change the flow regime of the Blue Nile” by flattening its hydrograph and with its gigantic size it “can poses substantial negative impacts on Sudan if not properly designed, constructed, filled and operated.”
Such harmful impacts, Sudan says, would “threaten the lives and safety of millions of Sudanese citizens.”
Khartoum told the UNSC that the draft agreement it submitted on 14 June to Egypt and Ethiopia has successfully brought divergent views closer. The agreement was based on the consensus reached during Washington talks – that stalled in mid-February – as well as the output of previous discussions throughout the past years.