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Egypt says date and location of meeting on water has yet to be determined

August 11, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris has denied media statements attributed to him saying that water ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have agreed to hold a meeting in Addis Ababa within the coming few days.

JPEG - 41.2 kbAn Egyptian farmer holds a handful of soil to show the dryness of the land due to drought in a farm formerly irrigated by the river Nile, in Al-Dakahlya, about 120 km (75 miles) from Cairo June 4, 2013. ( REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

He stressed in statements to the Egyptian state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper that contacts and consultations are still underway to convene the meeting and pointed that no agreement has been reached on its schedule or location but said that it is likely to be hold late this month in any of the three capitals.

Idris further said that this meeting comes in accordance with the agreement reached during the visit of Egypt’s former foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, to Addis Ababa, adding that the agreement called for adopting two tracks to address all water issues including Ethiopia’s Renaissance dam.

According to the accord, water ministers will be responsible for the technical aspects while foreign ministers will take on the political side.

The envoy pointed that Egypt’s current foreign minister Nabeel Fahmy, and his Ethiopian counterpart have agreed in a telephone conversation a few weeks ago to expedite the process of holding these meetings.

Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia heightened this year after Cairo threatened Addis Ababa in connection with its first dam project along the Blue Nile.

The controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), formerly known as the Millennium Dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile 40km from the Sudanese border.

Egypt argues that the construction of the dam would negatively affect their water shares and insisted the project should be scrapped, calling on international donors against funding it.

However Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir announced his support to the scheme saying his government understands the mutual benefits the project could offer Ethiopia and Sudan.

Khartoum’s stance has aggravated Egypt with many political figures blasting Sudan’s “treachery”.

Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.

But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.

The first phase of construction of the $4.2 billion dam is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts.

Once complete, the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts

Experts estimate that Egypt could lose up to 27% of its share of the Nile’s water when Ethiopia fills the GERD, which, when complete will be the Africa’s biggest reservoir with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.


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Ethiopian military plane crashes at Somali airport

August 10, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Ethiopian Air force plane on Friday crash landed at Mogadishu airport in Somalia, where thousands of Ethiopian forces are helping the country in the battle against al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgents.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said four of the six crew members, including two senior pilots on board, were killed in the incident.

AMISOM said the military plane which was carrying logistical support to African Union (AU) peacekeepers in the region “burst into flames immediately on crashing”.

The Ethiopian military cargo plane reportedly missed the runway before crash landing at Somalia’s international airport, where many military aircraft carrying supplies for AU peacekeeping forces land daily.

AMISOM firefighters helped to extinguish the fire at the airport.

The exact cause of the accident remains unclear, with the Somali government to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

The Ethiopian government has yet to issue an official statement on the incident.
Military officials in Ethiopia also refused Sudan Tribune’s requests for comment.

There are unconfirmed reports that the Soviet-made Antonov 24 plane had been carrying ammunitions.

Ethiopia first deployed its troops inside war-ravaged Somalia in 2011 to help the weak Somali government forces defeat the Islamist insurgent group, al Shabaab which was in control to many parts of the country.


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Jonglei lawmaker calls for return of Murle refugees from Ethiopia

August 9, 2013 (BOR) – A local member of parliament in Bor has called for 5,000 Murle refugees whom he claims are exiled in Ethiopia to return home.

The Member of Parliament, Judi Jonglei Boyoris, made the call on Tuesday during a news conference in Bor.

Boyoris said the Murle refugees are currently in Raat, near the border between Ethiopia and South Sudan.

According to Boyoris, the refugees are registered by the United Nations High Committee for Refugee (UNHCR) and the Ethiopian government.

Boyoris said although the security situation in Raat where the Murle refugees are, is normal, the area lacks schools for children.

In July clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle displaced about 100,000 civilians while an unknown number of people were killed.

The Luo Nuer reported that 70 of its members had been killed with 317 wounded while Pibor County reported that 300 from the Murle side were killed.

With the situation that led to the initial displacements still volatile, it is not known whether the Murle refugees being called upon to return by the member of parliament will heed the advice.


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