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UN ready to promote ‘win-win solution’ for Blue Nile dam project

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The United Nations stands ready to support Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in efforts to resolve their decade-long disagreement over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), senior officials told the Security Council on Thursday. 

UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, reported that recent negotiations under the African Union (AU) have yielded little progress. 

The parties have been unable to agree a framework for engagement to settle outstanding issues, which include a dispute resolution mechanism as well as the management of the dam during protracted drought. 

“The United Nations remains available to promote a win-win solution in supporting Member States in navigating this complex issue, where genuine political will, compromise and good neighborliness are essential,” he said. 

Tensions increasing 

The dispute over the GERD dates back to April 2011, when Ethiopia began building the dam on the Blue Nile, set to be the largest hydroelectric power project in Africa. 

When finished, it will store 74 billion cubic metres of water and generate more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity. 

Construction is nearing completion, and last year the reservoir behind the dam began to fill for the first time. Ethiopia this week announced it has begun filling again.  

Egypt and Sudan have objected, stating that any further filling should occur in the context of an agreed framework. 

While shared water resources have been the cause of contention, they can also be the foundation for cooperation, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, told ambassadors. 

“At this stage, and with other sources of regional tension increasing, we must recognize that overcoming the remaining differences among the parties will require careful, meticulous work, supported by the relevant technical and legal experts and with a determination by the three states to arrive at a cooperative solution, in pursuit of sustainable development for all in the spirit of ‘one river, one people, one vision’,” she said. 

Agreement possible 

Ms. Andersen stressed that an agreement on the dam can be reached, and must be reached, while underlining the UN’s readiness to support the countries, and the African Union, in reaching an agreement that is beneficial to all sides. 

Cooperation among the three countries has never been more important as demand for water rises, she added, due to factors such as population growth, urbanization and industrialization. At the same time, they also face the threat of increased flooding, and more intense droughts, due to climate change. 

 “It is therefore imperative that the parties work together to manage these interconnected challenges,” she said. “To reach an optimal agreement, trust and transparency and open engagement will be key.”

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Iran’s Parliament approves bill on accession to SCO

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Iran’s Parliament has approved by a majority vote a bill on the Islamic republic’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), according TASS information.

205 parliamentarians voted for the bill, 3 voted against and 4 abstained.

On September 30, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed a bill on the country’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to the Young Journalists Club news agency, Raisi sent the bill to the country’s parliament for consideration.

Iran signed a memorandum on liabilities for joining the Organization.

The Organization’s summit in Uzbekistan on September 15-16 launched the procedure of admitting Belarus as a full-fledged member.

Egypt and Qatar were granted a dialogue partner status, while Bahrain, Kuwait, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia began the procedure for obtaining this status.

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“It looks like most of them were shot in the head…”

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Image source: NYT

The New York Times” confirmed the location of the farmhouse by comparing the aerial video of the episode with satellite imagery of Makiivka, Luhansk. A series of videos that surfaced on social media last week has ignited a debate over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes as they tried to capture a group of Russian soldiers who were then killed.

The videos show the grisly before-and-after scenes of the encounter earlier this month, in which at least 11 Russians, most of whom are seen lying on the ground (photo), appear to have been shot dead at close range.

The videos, detailed below and whose authenticity has been verified by “The New York Times”, offer a rare look into one gruesome moment among many in the war.

The videos were first circulated by Ukrainian news and social media channels that used them to laud the military prowess of their armed forces and publicize their heroic retaking of territory lost to Russia early in the war.

In Russia, however, the videos prompted a fierce response among Russian commentators, who urged the government to seek an international investigation.

“We are aware of the videos, and we are looking into them,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office, told Reuters. “Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account.”

Under international law, the French term “hors de combat” refers to people who are “outside of combat” because of their surrender, being unarmed, unconscious or otherwise unable to defend themselves.

“It looks like most of them were shot in the head,” Dr. Rohini Haar, a forensic expert and faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said in an interview. “There are pools of blood. That indicates that they were just left there dead. There appears to have been no effort to pick them up or help them.”

Dr. Haar noted that when they surrendered, the Russian soldiers had been lying down, apparently unarmed, with their arms outstretched or behind their heads. “They’re considered hors de combat, or noncombatants — effectively prisoners of war,” Dr. Haar said.

The Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court, could prosecute this under several of its articles if Ukraine were a party to the treaty, Dr. Haar said, including Article 8b (vi), which says, “Killing or wounding a combatant, who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion” is a violation of the laws of international armed conflict.

…It is absolutely clear that the killers from the Ukrainian army vilely shot Russian soldiers who were captured by them.  The goal is simple and clear – to raise the level of hatred between the Russians and Ukrainians, cause more bloodshed. This inhuman act resembles very much a well-known British slogan: “Divide and rule”.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene: “We’re going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine”

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House Republicans critical of U.S. assistance to Ukraine during its war with Russia introduced a privileged resolution to audit the funds allocated by Congress. The resolution is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (photo) (R-Ga.) and backed by a group of GOP lawmakers.

The resolution, which calls for preserving administration documents and communications related to Ukraine funding distribution, speaks to other criticisms among some Republican lawmakers who support aid to Ukraine but say more oversight is needed.

The Biden administration has provided more than $20 billion in military assistance to Kyiv, as well as about $10 billion in humanitarian assistance and about $13 billion in economic assistance. President Biden has called for Congress to earmark $37.7 billion in additional funding for Ukraine.

Greene introduced the bill as a privileged resolution, meaning it will be referred to the relevant committee, where members will have 14 business days to either reject it, or approve it for a vote on the House floor.

Greene said she is prepared to reintroduce the resolution in the next Congress when Republicans hold the majority.

“I’ll introduce this resolution again, but I’ll also be calling for a full audit. We voted ‘no’ to send money over there, but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine.”

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