LONDON: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior figure in the Church of England, has urged Ethiopia to resume talks with Egypt and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Rev. Justin Welby, speaking at an inauguration event in Egypt on Friday for a new episcopal province, said that natural resources are “not the exclusive property of individual countries.”
The GERD, which dams a section of the Blue Nile, has been causing tension between the three African states for some time, with Egypt and Sudan fearing the effects on vital water supplies downstream.
The dam will be Africa’s largest source of hydropower, but Cairo and Khartoum have accused Addis Ababa of violating international law by continuing to fill it without their consent.
There have even been suggestions that Egypt could launch air strikes against Ethiopia if a resolution is not adhered to.
“I appeal to the Ethiopian government to show that they use the dam responsibly and look after their neighbors downstream,” said Welby. “Please show that this dam is not a cause for concern.”
The new Episcopal Province of the Anglican Church Welby has its seat in Alexandria, includes Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Eritrea, Somalia, Mauritania, Chad and Djibouti and serves around 40,000 believers.
“The province covers a vast area, from the waves of the Atlantic to the beaches of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean,” said Welby in his sermon at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo. âA thousand years ago this field preserved medicine and scholarship. Today Egypt has found its historical place again as a place of encounter and refuge. “
Egypt has a long history of Christian worship with more than 9 million believers living there. Most are Coptic Christians, a religious minority who have been persecuted in recent years. Welby, however, praised the North African country’s efforts to improve relations between its various religious communities.
“Christians should be part of a church that is to conquer with love and peace – never, never by a sword, a bomb or a conspiracy,” said Welby. âAnd I say to our dear, dear friends from the Islamic community: How often have Christians misunderstood this? Our story is one of the tragic sins of violence. Let us be people of peace together. “
The archbishop is expected to visit Refuge Egypt over the weekend as part of his trip before returning to the UK on Monday.