Egypt Stresses Peaceful Solution to Dam Dispute with Ethiopia

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the first African Health ExCon. Photo: Egyptian Presidency
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the first African Health ExCon. Photo: Egyptian Presidency
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Egypt Stresses Peaceful Solution to Dam Dispute with Ethiopia

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the first African Health ExCon. Photo: Egyptian Presidency
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the first African Health ExCon. Photo: Egyptian Presidency

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi stressed on Sunday that his country is not in a conflict with African states to increase its share of the Nile water.

The President spoke as he inaugurated the first African Health ExCon, which kicked off Sunday in Cairo and will continue until Tuesday.

“Our share in the Nile Water is estimated at 55 billion cubic meters, and it has not changed since the population was three or four million,” he said in reference to Egypt’s continued peaceful approach in dealing with the dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

GERD is set to be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa but has been a center of dispute with downstream nations Egypt and Sudan ever since work first began in 2011.

Cairo has reiterated its demand that Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan reach a legally-binding agreement to fill and operate the dam.

The last round of talks between the three countries in Kinshasa ended in early April 2021 with no progress made. Ethiopia refused then to involve the quartet in GERD talks and renewed its commitment to the African Union-led talks.

“We did not enter into a conflict with our African brothers in order to increase this (water) share,” Sisi said on Sunday.

Egypt has repeatedly denied its intention to go to war with Ethiopia over the dam. Cairo stressed that it will follow peaceful political means to reach a solution to the dispute on the dam, which it describes as “existential,” despite the stalled negotiations.

Dr. Sama Suleiman, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Egyptian parliament, told Asharq Al-Awsat that official statements released by the Foreign Ministry reveal Egypt’s willingness and intension to reach an agreement on the dam in line with international law and through negotiations.

Meanwhile, Sisi said on Sunday that Egypt ranks first or second worldwide in benefiting from water treatments and desalination to profit its people.

He stressed that water treatment programs have been developed in accordance with international health standards.

Egypt suffers from scarcity of water resources and needs about 114 billion cubic meters annually, while the available water resources amount to 74 billion cubic meters.

The Nile water accounts for more than 90 percent of Egypt’s needs or 55.5 billion cubic meters.

In order to overcome the crisis, the Ministry of Irrigation has prepared a plan to manage water in Egypt until 2037 with investments of more than $50 billion, which are expected to increase to $100 billion.

Also Sunday, Sisi launched an Egyptian initiative to provide a number of African states with 30 million anti-coronavirus vaccine doses.

Speaking at a dialogue session under the theme of "towards flexible and sustainable health systems in Africa,” held within the framework of the 1st Africa Health Excon, the president said all potentials in Egypt are available for African brethren, pointing out that he highly understands the suffering of any human being whether in Africa or in any country.

Sisi said the lack of resources should not be an obstacle impeding the realization of objectives.

He asserted that "it is through will and hope that progress could be realized”, highlighting Egypt's efforts in the early detection of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and putting an end to the virus.



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.