Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches Discuss Nile River Waters

It is being reported that a visit by Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of Alexandria to Ethiopia is being discussed by the Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches. The sister churches have also been discussing the future use of the Nile River's waters following the completion of the Millennium Dam in Ethiopia, saying that they are prepared to assist their respective governments in resolving the issue. More here.

The use of the Nile's waters has been contentious between Egypt and Ethiopia for centuries. Long before the British negotiated the standing treaty governing how much water the countries along the Nile are entitled to the Ethiopian emperors were threatening to cut off the Blue Nile's flow to Egypt should the latter mistreat its Coptic Orthodox majority (now a minority). Egypt's Arab Muslim rulers in their turn would sometimes refuse to allow new metropolitans to be sent to Ethiopia without assurances from its reigning emperors that the Blue Nile's flow would not be interrupted.

What role, if any, the Churches of Egypt and Ethiopia can or will play in this issue today remains to be seen. What is certain is that Egypt's receipt of the lion's share of the Nile's waters is unfair and no longer tenable given the economic and population growth in the countries that actually provide the bulk of the water that feeds the Nile's tributaries.

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