The United Nations Security Council is set to meet Thursday on Ethiopia’s mega-dam project, which has sparked fears in downstream Sudan and Egypt over their water supplies, diplomats said.
Both nations have been pushing Ethiopia to ink a binding deal over the filling and operation of its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile that broke ground in 2011.
Addis Ababa, which said it last year reached its first target in the years-long filling of the dam, has announced it will proceed in July with or without a deal.
The public session was requested by Tunisia on Egypt and Sudan’s behalf, according to a diplomatic source.
France’s ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, said last week that the council itself can do little apart from bringing the sides together.
“We can open the door, invite the three countries at the table, bring them to express their concerns, encourage them to get back to the negotiations and find a solution,” he told reporters.
Sudan and Egypt have written to the council to urge it to take up the matter in recent weeks.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in his note that negotiations are at an impasse and he accused Ethiopia of adopting “a policy of intransigence that undermined our collective endeavors to reach an agreement.”
Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.
Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding, but fears its own dams would be harmed without agreement on its operation.