CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Ethiopia announced completion of third filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) despite concerns raised by Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia’s govt 11 Aug said it had launched power production from GERD’s second turbine, next day announced completion of dam’s third filling. Local media 11 Aug quoted head of Sudanese technical negotiating team on GERD, Mustafa Hussein, as saying that Sudan would take “necessary action” if filling of GERD impacted Sudan’s dams or other uses of Nile river water supply. Sudanese govt 18 Aug however denounced “misleading and incorrect information” and urged “cooperation” between impacted countries. Prior to Ethiopia’s announcements, Egypt late July had sent letter to UN Security Council protesting Ethiopia’s intention to continue “unilaterally” filling dam.
Ethiopia launched power production from Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), lowering hopes of renewed dialogue between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. Addis Ababa 20 Feb announced it had started producing electricity at GERD. In response, Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry same day accused Ethiopia of violating 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by all three countries. Cairo in letter to UN Security Council around 25 Feb said Ethiopia bears “full responsibility” for “any damage caused to Egypt” as a result. Sudan’s acting Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Daw Al-Bait Abdul-Rahman 21 Feb rejected “unacceptable move” and “unilateral step” by Ethiopia.
International community called for renewed efforts to resolve water dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. Amid stalled tripartite talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under African Union auspices, U.S. Horn of Africa Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman 2 Nov stated “urgent need” for acceptable deal between Egypt and Ethiopia. During U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue in Washington DC, U.S. Sec State Anthony Blinken 8 Nov reiterated U.S. support for negotiated agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. Arab League Sec Gen Ahmed Aboul Gheit 12 Nov called for further international pressure on Ethiopia over GERD and reiterated support for Sudan and Egypt’s water rights. During Tanzanian President Suluhu Hassan’s visit to Egypt, President Sisi 10 Nov said GERD “existential” issue for Egypt, and cooperation between Nile Basin countries on GERD would boost security and stability for all countries in region. Egypt’s Water Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati 20 Nov warned any water shortage due to GERD would spark regional instability.
Efforts to resolve water dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan remained at standstill. Sudanese diplomatic source 9 Oct reportedly told Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm that AU’s Democratic Republic of Congo Presidency had not yet set date for resuming negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute. Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati 11 Oct said negotiations were “almost frozen” and “international communications [on the matter] do not live up to our ambitions” in apparent reference to Sept UN Security Council statement calling for resumption of AU-led talks. Ethiopian foreign ministry 14 Oct said Addis Ababa was ready to resume talks under AU auspices. In address to international water conference in Egyptian capital Cairo, Egyptian President Sisi 24 Oct called for “balanced and legally binding agreement” to be reached as soon as possible, citing Egypt’s “almost exclusive dependence” on Nile waters.
Amid stalled efforts to resolve Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute, UN Security Council urged parties to resume AU-led talks. Egypt’s Water Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati 6 Sept said diplomatic initiatives other than AU efforts under way. Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry 8 Sept reiterated commitment to talks with view to reaching binding agreement on filling and operating dam, said Cairo wants to avoid military conflict. UN Security Council 15 Sept adopted Tunisia-drafted presidential statement encouraging Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resume GERD negotiations under AU auspices, and calling on parties to reach “binding” agreement “within a reasonable time frame”. Ethiopia’s foreign ministry same day regretted “that the Council pronounces itself over an issue of water right … that is outside of its mandate”, and condemned “Tunisia’s historic misstep”. In speech delivered to UN General Assembly, Egyptian President Sisi 21 Sept criticised Ethiopia’s “intransigence” and “unjustified refusal to deal positively with the negotiations process”.
Efforts to resolve water dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan remained at standstill. Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas 24 Aug said Addis Ababa’s filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in July had no effect on year’s flood but “lack of information” forced Khartoum to take precautions with significant economic and social costs. Ethiopian FM Demeke Mekonnen 26 Aug called on UN Security Council members to reject draft resolution on GERD submitted by Tunisia in July, which called for legally binding agreement between three parties; reiterated such resolution would undermine efforts to resume negotiations with Egypt and Sudan under African Union auspices.
Regional tensions ran high as Ethiopia completed second filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aati 5 July said he had received notice from Addis Ababa that it had begun filling GERD reservoir for second year in a row, expressed “firm rejection of this unilateral measure” and reassured citizens filling would not impact available water volumes yet. UN Security Council (UNSC) next day urged all parties to recommit to talks. Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry 8 July urged UNSC to help resolve dispute and approve draft resolution calling for legally binding agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia within six months; U.S and Russia same day reiterated support for AU-led mediation efforts and opposition to any changes to current diplomatic framework. Ethiopia 19 July announced it had completed second filling of GERD; Khartoum same day rejected Addis Ababa’s “fait accompli policies” and Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas 28 July said Khartoum would not resume negotiations without involvement of international quartet composed of U.S., UN, EU and AU.
Egypt and Sudan continued to increase pressure on Ethiopia to negotiate legally binding agreement on filling and operation of giant dam on Blue Nile river. Egypt and Sudan 9 June jointly called on Ethiopia to “seriously negotiate” agreement on filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). In letter to UN Security Council, Cairo 11 June denounced Ethiopia’s plan to move ahead with second GERD filling despite lack of binding agreement and called on international community to redouble efforts to help reach peaceful settlement. Khartoum 14 June said it was willing to sign partial interim deal that would include all terms agreed on by all three parties and guarantees of continued negotiations. Arab League 15 June issued resolution calling for UN Security Council intervention to make all parties sign binding agreement; Ethiopian foreign ministry immediately rejected resolution and accused Cairo and Khartoum of attempting to “unnecessarily politicize” GERD negotiations. Sudanese FM Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi 22 June reiterated call on UN Security Council to meet and discuss GERD. Sudan 27 June rejected Addis Ababa’s interim deal proposal to manage second filling, claiming it was “way to buy time” and negotiations on any such proposal should involve all parties under AU auspices.
Rhetoric among parties grew harsher ahead of Addis Ababa’s second filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopian foreign ministry 4 May denounced “unwarranted, provocative and increasingly bellicose propaganda” by Sudan; statement followed Khartoum’s late-April warning that Ethiopia’s disavowal of past border treaties compromised country’s sovereignty over Benishangul-Gumuz region where GERD is located. Amid growing concerns that GERD’s second filling between June and Aug could escalate dispute, U.S. Horn of Africa Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman 4-13 May travelled to region, called for immediate resumption of AU-led tripartite negotiations. In meeting with Feltman in Cairo, Egyptian President Sisi 5 May said Ethiopian dam was “existential” threat, warned Cairo would not accept anyone “harming its water interests”. Ethiopian foreign ministry 20 May warned Addis Ababa would “not tolerate any move” aimed at disrupting GERD’s second filling. Khartoum 25 May claimed Addis Ababa had begun second filling early May; Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele same day denied allegations as “deliberately misleading”. In possible warning to Addis Ababa and preparation for possible escalation of tensions, Sudan and Egypt 26-31 May held third joint military exercise since Nov 2020.
Tensions continued to mount among Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt ahead of Addis Ababa’s planned second unilateral filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in coming months. In apparent warning to Addis Ababa and preparation for possible escalation of inter-state tensions, Sudan and Egypt 31 March-5 April held second joint military exercise since Nov 2020. New round of talks among Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile river broke down 6 April. Cairo same day denounced Ethiopia’s “lack of political will to negotiate in good faith”, while Khartoum vowed to “consider all possible options to protect its security”, denouncing Addis Ababa’s rejection of its proposal for quadripartite mediation by AU, EU, UN and U.S. to break deadlock in AU-led negotiations. Ethiopia’s water minister Seleshi Bekele 7 April said Addis Ababa would proceed with second filling of dam during forthcoming rainy season between June and Sept. Sudan and Egypt 10 April declined Ethiopia’s offer to share data about second filling, reiterating need for legally binding agreement on dam’s operation. Sudan 12 April and Egypt next day called on UN Security Council to encourage Ethiopia to refrain from filling GERD unilaterally before parties reach agreement. Sudanese PM Abdallah Hamdok 13 April called for closed-door meeting with Egyptian and Ethiopian counterparts in bid to break deadlock; Ethiopia 21 April declined Hamdok’s proposal, same day proposed AU-sponsored meeting to end stalemate. Following Hamdok’s 5 April meeting with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken and Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry’s 12 April meeting with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, Ethiopian FM Demeke Mekonnen 15 April denounced “politicising and internationalising” of dispute. Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas 23 April said Sudan may sue Ethiopia in international courts if it goes ahead with plan to fill GERD unilaterally.
Ethiopia confirmed plans to fill Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for second time in July as negotiations with Sudan and Egypt remained deadlocked; rhetoric among conflict parties grew increasingly tense. Following Sudan’s Egypt-backed proposal in Feb for quadripartite mediation by AU, EU, U.S. and UN to break deadlock in AU-led negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over GERD, Khartoum and Cairo 2 March signed agreement to boost military cooperation, next day renewed calls for relaunching “serious and effective” negotiations to reach “fair, balanced and legally binding” agreement. Ethiopia 3 March said attempts to involve other mediators “demeaned” AU efforts. Sudan mid-March submitted formal request for international quartet to mediate GERD dispute; Ethiopia 16 March reiterated opposition to involving outside parties and renewed call for resumption of stalled AU-led tripartite talks, next day confirmed it would conduct second GERD water filling in July. Khartoum 23 March backed proposal by United Arab Emirates to mediate both its border and dam disputes with Addis Ababa; 29 March said U.S. and EU were willing to mediate dam dispute, after UN 5 March already said it was ready to support process. Cairo 28 March warned unilateral actions taken by Addis Ababa over filling and operation of GERD would have “massive negative repercussions”; 30 March said its share of Nile Waters was “untouchable”, and any reduction in Egypt’s water supply caused by GERD would bring “inconceivable instability” in region. Sudan next day said Ethiopia’s unilateral actions had undermined trust between both countries and explained it had proposed international quartet mediation after “learning Addis Ababa was eluding to buy time” to complete second filling of dam in coming months.
Tripartite negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) remained stalled. African Union (AU)-sponsored talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on filling and operation of GERD 4 Nov reached stalemate after Egypt objected to Sudan’s proposal to give greater role to AU experts to narrow gaps between parties and propose compromises. Sudan 21 Nov boycotted new round of talks, reiterating call for new method of negotiation. Ethiopian govt 26 Nov announced GERD expected to begin generating power in June 2021.
African Union hosted tripartite meeting to break deadlock on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), while U.S. President Trump’s comment ignited tensions. African Union 27 Oct hosted virtual meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan ministers of foreign affairs and water resources to discuss ways to resume talks over filling and operation of GERD. Earlier in month, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work 5 Oct said dam will begin generating power in next 12 months; Ethiopia’s aviation chief same day said all flights in airspace over GERD had been banned “to secure the dam”. Sudanese PM Hamdok 23 Oct urged for “amicable solution” to dispute while U.S. President Trump same day said Egypt could end up “blowing up that dam”. Ethiopian govt next day accused Trump of trying to incite “war” between GERD parties, and FM Gedu Andargachew same day summoned U.S. ambassador.
Negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) remained largely stalled. U.S. early Sept announced suspension of around $130mn in aid to Ethiopia over latter’s completion of first phase of filling of GERD’s reservoir and “lack of progress” in tripartite talks. At UN General Assembly, Egypt’s President Sisi 22 Sept warned against extending negotiations indefinitely, and Ethiopia’s PM Abiy 25 Sept said Ethiopia had “no intention” of harming Sudan and Egypt and remained committed to African Union-led talks.
Comprehensive agreement on filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile River remained elusive despite stop-start negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. Following 3 Aug resumption of tripartite negotiations between water ministers under African Union auspices, Sudan and Egypt next day suspended participation in protest at Ethiopia’s proposal to negotiate agreement only on filling of dam, instead of comprehensive agreement on filling and operation, and later to negotiate separate treaty on Blue Nile water allocation. Negotiations 10 Aug resumed but Sudan immediately requested talks be further postponed for a week to conduct internal consultations. Egyptian PM Mostafa Madbouly and senior Sudanese officials in Khartoum 15 Aug renewed calls for legally binding agreement on filling and operation of GERD including dispute resolution mechanism. All three water ministers resumed negotiations few days later. Ethiopia and Sudan 25 Aug vowed to make “all efforts” to reach deal but latter 28 Aug said talks had again stalled. U.S. Sec State Pompeo late Aug approved plan to halt some U.S. aid to Ethiopia, reportedly in effort to mediate agreement.
New round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile River floundered, and Ethiopia lauded completion of first round of filling. Following resumption of tripartite negotiations under African Union (AU) auspices 3 July, talks faltered 13 July as Ethiopia refused to agree to legally-binding dispute-resolution mechanism; Ethiopian govt next day pledged to pursue negotiations but said demands from downstream nations were thwarting chances of reaching agreement. Following AU Bureau-led extraordinary meeting on GERD negotiations 21 July, Ethiopian PM Abiy same day said Addis Ababa had reached “major common understanding with Sudan and Egypt”; Cairo said all three had agreed to prioritise development of binding legal agreement for filling and operating GERD. Abiy same day said Ethiopia had achieved its first-year target for filling reservoir thanks to heavy rainy season, prompting Egypt and Sudan to immediately condemn “unilateral” move. After AU 24 July called on parties to finalise binding agreement on filling and operation of dam, new round of negotiations started 27 July. Sudan next day requested talks to be postponed until 3 Aug to conduct internal consultations.
Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile river resumed but soon faltered. Following tripartite commitment in May to revive talks after months-long hiatus, Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers 9 June began new round of negotiations. Talks however broke down 17 June over lack of consensus on mechanism for resolving disputes and minimum downstream flows in cases of drought, as well as legal status of final agreement. Sudan immediately suggested negotiations be pursued at heads-of-state level to break deadlock, for which Egypt next day blamed Ethiopia. Ethiopia 19 June reiterated it would start filling GERD’s reservoir in July with or without agreement, prompting Egypt same day and Sudan few days later to call on UN Security Council (UNSC) to intervene. Egyptian President Sisi 20 June reiterated commitment to using diplomacy to resolve crisis; Sudan next day warned against escalation, urging further negotiations. FMs of Arab League member states 23 June warned water security of Egypt and Sudan is “integral part of Arab national security”, urged Ethiopia to refrain from filling dam’s reservoir before reaching agreement. Following online meeting convened by African Union 26 June, all three countries agreed to return to talks with view to reaching agreement within two weeks, with Addis Ababa holding off on filling reservoir until agreement is reached; however Ethiopian PM Abiy next day said country would “start filling GERD within next two weeks”. At UNSC meeting 29 June, Cairo said GERD posed existential threat to Egypt, warned of conflict if UN fails to intervene.
After U.S.-facilitated talks broke down in Feb, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt took steps to revive negotiations over filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile river, triggering hopes of de-escalation in coming weeks. In letter to UN Security Council early May, Egypt’s govt said Ethiopia’s plan to start filling GERD’s reservoir in July with or without agreement “poses a serious threat to the region’s peace and security” and stressed need for comprehensive agreement between three countries. Khartoum 12 May reiterated refusal to sign “partial agreement” for first phase of dam’s filling proposed by Addis Ababa. In video conference 21 May, Ethiopia’s PM Abiy and Sudan’s PM Hamdok agreed to resume tripartite negotiations among water ministers; Cairo immediately welcomed move. Sudan’s water minister 25 May held separate meetings with Egyptian and Ethiopian counterparts to discuss arrangements for resumption of negotiations.
Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.