Sudan suffered damages due to GERD filling, urges binding deal to avoid further harms, Hamdok tells UNGA

Ahram Online , Saturday 25 Sep 2021

We renew our rejection of any unilateral act and affirm the necessity to reach a binding agreement on the dam filling and operation, Hamdok told the UNGA on Saturday

New In this photo taken from video, Abdalla Adam Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Sudan, remotely addre
In this photo taken from video, Abdalla Adam Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Sudan, remotely addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message, Saturday Sept. 25, 2021 at UN headquarters. AP

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told the 76th UN General Assembly (UNGA) General Debate that Sudan suffered damages during the filling phases of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

In recorded remarks, Hamdok urged that a binding deal should be reached to spare Sudan probable harm to its citizens and on the safety of its dams.

Ethiopia unilaterally implemented the second phase of filling its mega dam last July without reaching a binding deal with both Egypt and Sudan on the filling and operation of the dam.

Egypt and Sudan, who repeatedly affirmed the need to reach a deal that would end their concerns on their water interests and people’s livelihoods, have denounced Ethiopia’s unilateral filling of the dam.

The two countries have also blamed failure of negotiations under the auspices of the African Union (AU) on Ethiopia’s intransigence.

“We renew our rejection of any unilateral act and affirm the necessity to reach a binding agreement on the [dam] filling and operation,” Hamdok told the UNGA on Saturday.

He noted that such agreement will “spare our country the probable damages that threaten the means of livelihood of half of Sudan’s population.”

Hamdok warned that such unilateral acts by the Ethiopian side “threaten the safety of operation of Sudan’s dams and negatively affect irrigation of agricultural projects and drinking water plants.”

The Sudanese PM also warned of the negative social, economic, environmental effects of these unilateral acts along the Nile River.

“We suffered some of these damages during the first unilateral filling [of the dam] last year and the second unilateral filling over the past weeks despite the numerous and costly preventive measures that we have taken to avoid these impacts,” Hamdok affirmed.

Sudan’s report of harms due to the second filling comes although Ethiopia late in July claimed that the second GERD filling was implemented in accordance with the Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed with Egypt and Sudan in 2015.

The DoP obliges the three countries to take all the necessary procedures to avoid causing significant damage among them while using the Blue Nile.

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council issued a presidential statement urging the three countries to resume their AU-sponsored talks on the GERD and reach a binding agreement.

This came two months after the UNSC convened to discuss the issue as per a request by both Egypt and Sudan, a step that Ethiopia has slammed.

The UNSC’s session “came after the parties failed during the previous rounds of negotiations to reach any agreement due to the intransigence regarding the dam issue,” Hamdok said told the General Debate.

He affirmed that this failure came “despite the great efforts exerted by the past and current African Union’s presidencies”.

Hamdok said placing the GERD file before the UNSC aimed at “enhancing the current path of negotiations under the umbrella of the African Union in a way that allows the achievement of the desired agreement.”

The Sudanese PM stressed his country’s readiness to resume its participation in “any peaceful move or initiative that leads the parties to an agreement that meets the interests of them all.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has affirmed the importance of resuming GERD dialogue in a spirit of reaching a compromise, a UN statement said.

Guterres made the remarks in a meeting on Friday with Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA.

Guterres underlined the UN's support for the mediation efforts made by the African Union regarding the dam dispute, the statement added.

Following the UNSC’s presidential statement in September, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have recently expressed readiness to engage in the AU-sponsored negotiations aiming to resolve their dispute over the mega dam.

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