Egypt Says to Adopt Measures to Avoid GERD Water Crisis

Satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (AFP)
Satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (AFP)
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Egypt Says to Adopt Measures to Avoid GERD Water Crisis

Satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (AFP)
Satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (AFP)

Egypt has hinted at taking measures against any expected risks of a water crisis resulting from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), as the negotiations have failed to reach a final agreement regulating the mechanism for filling and operating the dam on the main tributary of the Nile River.

Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty asserted that Egypt will prevent a water crisis, nor will it accept illegitimate unilateral moves, warning that Cairo can adopt a number of measures in response, without revealing further details.

The negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan stopped after the last round held in early April in Congo failed to reach any solutions.

The two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt, are demanding a binding legal agreement that ensures their rights.

Ethiopia began constructing the 1.8-kilometer-long GERD in 2011 to generate power, which it says is necessary to meet the electricity needs of its 110 million people.

Addis Ababa intends to begin the second filling of the reservoir during the rainy season in July.

Last week, the US Department of State said the GERD negotiations mediated by the African Union (AU) “must resume urgently.”

“The United States is committed to providing political and technical support to facilitate a successful outcome” to these negotiations, the statement added.

However, Abdel-Aty said that the US has not presented any proposals to resolve the dispute, adding that negotiations remain deadlocked despite the efforts exerted by the Chairman of the AU.

The minister emphasized that tripartite cooperation and data sharing are needed to ensure the downstream countries will not be harmed by GERD.

Egypt suffers from an acute shortage of water resources, and according to Abdel-Aty, wastewater is being filtered more than four times to face the water problem in the country.

He reported that Egypt is building more than 120 water mixing stations to make up for the shortage, and the High Dam reservoir will only be used in cases of drought.

He noted that there would be a “water shock” if Ethiopia started the second filling process, indicating that the dam holds 27 percent of the water share reaching the downstream countries.

The official also indicated that Egypt has taken several measures to ensure there won’t be a water crisis.

However, Abdel-Aty confirmed that Ethiopia's filling of the dam last year without coordination stirred problems with Egypt and Sudan, noting that Addis Ababa seized within one week, 4.5 billion cubic meters of water without informing the two countries.

Abdel-Aty stressed Egypt's keenness to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam with a fair and binding mechanism for resolving disputes.

He pointed out that Cairo presented many scenarios that guarantee Ethiopia’s right to development without harming Egypt's water interests, including guaranteeing 80 percent of its electricity generation needs, but Ethiopia refused.

Abdel-Aty called on the Egyptian people to save water.



Food Piles Up at Gaza Crossing as Aid Agencies Say Unable to Work

Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP
Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP
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Food Piles Up at Gaza Crossing as Aid Agencies Say Unable to Work

Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP
Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP

Days after Israel announced a daily pause in fighting on a key route to allow more aid into Gaza, chaos in the besieged Palestinian territory has left vital supplies piled up and undistributed in the searing summer heat, AFP reported.

More than eight months of war, sparked by Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, have led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and repeated UN warnings of famine.

Desperation among Gaza's 2.4 million population has increased as fighting rages, sparking warnings from agencies that they are unable to deliver aid.

Israel says it has let supplies in and called on agencies to step up deliveries.

"The breakdown of public order and safety is increasingly endangering humanitarian workers and operations in Gaza," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, said in a briefing late Friday.

"Alongside the fighting, criminal activities and the risk of theft and robbery has effectively prevented humanitarian access to critical locations."

But Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks of aid into southern Gaza, trading blame with the United Nations over why the aid is stacking up.

It shared aerial footage of containers lined up on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom crossing and more trucks arriving to add to the stockpile.

With civil order breaking down in Gaza, the UN says it has been unable to pick up any supplies from Kerem Shalom since Tuesday, leaving crucial aid in limbo.

A deputy UN spokesman this week said the crossing "is operating with limited functionality, including because of fighting in the area".

William Schomburg, International Committee of the Red Cross chief in Rafah, said arranging lorries from the Egyptian side in particular was complicated.

"It's not just a question of civil order, but also the fact that you often have to cross battlefields," he said in an online briefing, adding that the area near Kerem Shalom had been hostile.

"There were even rockets fired nearby. So this whole area is particularly complicated to navigate for reasons linked to the hostilities and for reasons linked to general security."

Israel's coordinator for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT, said Thursday "the content of 1,200 aid trucks awaits collection by UN aid agencies", saying a lack of distribution was responsible.

Earlier in the week, COGAT spokesman Shimon Freedman told reporters at the crossing the daily pause on a southern road into Gaza was designed to allow the UN "to collect and distribute more aid" alongside an Israeli military presence.

He said most of the aid had not moved because "organizations have not taken sufficient steps to improve their distribution capacity".

Aid agencies have instead pointed to Israel's offensive on the southern city of Rafah, which pushed out more than a million people and closed a border crossing with Egypt, as a deepening humanitarian crisis hampered relief efforts.

Schomburg described Rafah City as a "ghost town".

"It is a ghost town in the sense that you see very few people, high levels of destruction, and really just another symbol of the unfolding tragedy that has become Gaza over the last nine months," he said.

The UN food agency has said its aid convoys have been looted inside Gaza by "desperate people".

As both sides stall, it is the civilians in Gaza who are paying the price.

"We don't see any aid. Everything we get to eat comes from our own money and it's all very expensive," said Umm Mohammad Zamlat, 66, from northern Gaza but now living in Khan Yunis in the south.

"Even agencies specialized in aid deliveries are not able to provide anything to us," she added.