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LONDON: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England’s highest figure, called on Ethiopia to resume talks with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Bishop Justin Welby was speaking at an event in Egypt inaugurating a new episcopal province on Friday, where he said natural resources “are not the exclusive property of individual countries.”
GERD, damming a stretch of the Blue Nile, has been a source of tension between the three African states for some time, with Egypt and Sudan fearing the impact it will have 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 approval.
It has even been suggested that Egypt could launch airstrikes against Ethiopia if a resolution is not met.
“I call on the Ethiopian government to show that it will use the dam responsibly, taking care of its downstream neighbors,” Welby said. “Please show this roadblock is nothing to worry about.”
The newly inaugurated Episcopal Province of the Anglican Church Welby is based in Alexandria, covering Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Eritrea, Somalia, Mauritania, Chad and Djibouti, and serving approximately 40,000 faithful.
“The province covers a vast area, from the waves of the Atlantic to the beaches of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean,” Welby said in his sermon at All Saint’s Cathedral in Cairo. “A thousand years ago, this region preserved medicine and learning. Today, Egypt has regained its historic place as a place of meeting, of refuge.
Egypt has a long history of Christian worship, with over 9 million followers living there. Most are Coptic Christians, a religious minority that has been persecuted in recent years. However, Welby praised the North African country’s efforts to improve relations between its disparate religious communities.
“Christians must be part of a church that is told to conquer with love and peace – never, never by a sword, a bomb or a plot,” Welby said. “And I say to our dear, dear friends of the Islamic community: How many times have Christians been wrong? Our story is that of the tragic sin of strength. Let us be together people of peace.
The Archbishop is expected to visit a refugee charity over the weekend, Refuge Egypt, as part of his trip, before returning to the UK on Monday.