Ethiopia Surprises Egypt, Sudan: Filling of GERD’s Lake to Begin In July

 Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
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Ethiopia Surprises Egypt, Sudan: Filling of GERD’s Lake to Begin In July

 Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Ethiopia surprised Egypt and Sudan on Saturday by announcing that the first phase of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) lake would begin in July 2020.

Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity Seleshi Bekele made the announcement during the third round of talks that kicked off in Khartoum between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, and in the presence of the representative of the US Department of the Treasury and the World Bank.

“The last round of talks in Cairo was disappointing, and despite that, we hoped to reach an agreement on disputed issues between Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia,” Bekele said at the meeting, which aims to negotiate the rules of filling the GERD reservoir.

The foreign ministers and water resources ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met in Washington last November to discuss issues related to the dam and they agreed to hold four technical meetings to follow up and assess the progress.

The first meeting was held in Ethiopia in November and the second meeting was held in Cairo in December.

Also at Saturday’s meeting, Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Yasser Abbas said the Nile Water should be fairly used among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia without harming any party.

“The Nile River is the source of life for Egypt. Egypt needs Nile water. So does Sudan. We assert our rights in Nile water,” Abbas said. “There is enough of Nile water to be used in a rational and cooperative way,” the minister explained.

For his part, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty said there is a need to emphasis the discussion on the issue of filling and operating the dam together with the periods of droughts and desertification.

He said Egypt prefers reaching a comprehensive deal on all issues of the GERD based on the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015 as a reference agreement.

Ethiopia’s construction of GERD on the Blue Nile began in 2012, but since then Egypt has sounded the alarm that the project would severely reduce its water supplies.



Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces agreed with the United Nations on some steps to ease aid delivery in areas under its control, a member of the RSF told Reuters on Thursday.

The Sudanese army has not reached any understandings on aid delivers with the RSF, he added. It is unclear if these steps could be implemented without the army's participation.

Meanwhile, a key supply route into Sudan's Darfur region, deemed at risk of famine by a global monitor, has been cut off due to heavy rains, a World Food Program official told Reuters on Thursday.
The UN agency has described Sudan as the world's biggest hunger crisis, with the western Darfur region most at risk as Sudan's 15-month civil war that has displaced millions and sparked ethnic violence grinds on.
WFP's Country Director Eddie Rowe said thousands of tons of aid are stranded at the Tina crossing on the Chad border, prompting the body to reopen talks with the army-aligned government to open an alternative, all-weather crossing further south called Adre.
"You have these huge rivers. As I speak now, our convoy, which is supposed to move over 2000 metric tons is stranded," he told Reuters from Port Sudan. Asked on the status of the talks that resumed this week, he said: "It's 50/50.”
WFP is now seeking clearances to move a large 70-truck convoy via a little-used, over 1000 kilometer route from Port Sudan to Darfur which Rowe said will involve crossing the battle lines of both the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and various militias.
He added that this mostly desert route has worked in the past but outside of the rainy season and that the last journey took weeks and was "fraught with a lot of challenges.”
In a separate interview, Mona Rishmawi, a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, told Reuters that she had met Darfur refugees in Chad who told her stories of escaping with virtually no water and eating grass along the route. "There's no doubt that people are starving," she said.