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Cablegate: Darfur: Mornei, West Darfur - the Eye of the Storm?

VZCZCXRO4001
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0530/01 0940907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040907Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6714
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000530

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND TSHORTLEY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR: MORNEI, WEST DARFUR - THE EYE OF THE STORM?


KHARTOUM 00000530 001.2 OF 002


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SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) On March 5 and 6, USAID staff traveled to Mornei, West
Darfur, to monitor USAID-funded humanitarian programs and to assess
current conditions. This represented the first visit by USAID
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance staff to Mornei in more
than sixteen months due to restricted access as a result of ongoing
insecurity. Despite access difficulties in surrounding areas, USAID
staff reported stable conditions in Mornei town and internally
displaced person (IDP) camp where USAID programs provide essential
services to an estimated 80,000 people. However, the recent
introduction of new Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) personnel,
Sudanese government-funded local non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), and nomadic Arab settlements in the area have the potential
to undermine traditional authority, create conflict among the
various camp ethnic groups, and disrupt humanitarian programming.
End summary.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

2. (U) In 2003, before the Darfur conflict began, Mornei had an
estimated population of 7,000. However, by the end of 2004, the
town and surrounding area's population had swelled to an estimated
75,000 individuals, including 68,000 IDPs from 170 villages in the
Zalingei, El Geneina, and Wadi Salih localities. IDPs included
members of Fur, Maasalit, Zaghawa, Tama, Gimir, Dagu, and Tawara
ethnic groups. Although other areas in West Darfur have experienced
frequent program suspensions due to insecurity, humanitarian
agencies in Mornei have been able to maintain a consistent presence.
Through implementing partners Concern, Save the Children/US, ACTED,
and the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), USAID supports ongoing
health, livelihoods, emergency food assistance, and water,
sanitation, and hygiene programs in the area. USAID staff noted the
high quality of partner operations that provide health care to
approximately 200 people daily, access to clean water for the
general population, livelihood opportunities for 2,437 individuals,
and monthly food rations to 73,539 people.

-------------------------------
NEW ACTORS MAKE WAVES IN MORNEI
-------------------------------

3. (U) In November 2006, new HAC personnel and Sudanese
government-funded NGOs arrived in Mornei, leading to increased
tensions and strained relations among government officials, the
humanitarian community, and IDPs. The arrival of three new HAC
officials from Khartoum has increased tensions between humanitarian
agencies and the HAC in Mornei, as well as within the local HAC
administration. The Mornei HAC Commissioner, Mohammed Abbas, is
currently engaged in a political struggle with the new officials,
who are not as cooperative or supportive of international
humanitarian organizations and IDPs. At the same time, Sudanese
government-funded local NGOs established a presence in Mornei. IDPs
refused to accept non-WFP food assistance from the local NGO the
Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA), which attempted to initiate
food distributions. IARA then established a health center adjacent
to a Mdecins Sans Frontihres (MSF)-operated health clinic, and is
competing with MSF for beneficiaries. Traditional leaders, who had
been supportive of international NGO engagement in the camp, have
subsequently had their influence steadily eroded.

--------------------------
LOCATION AND LAND CONCERNS
--------------------------

4. (U) For reasons that remain unclear, the week of February 20,
local authorities attempted to force IDPs to purchase the land they
were occupying at a price of USD 50 per plot. (Note: Similar
attempts to charge IDPs for land were made in El Geneina and Habilah
during the same period. However, after pressure from the U.N.,
these initiatives were stopped by the HAC in El Geneina. End note.)
HAC plans to extend the camp to the east and relocate IDPs from
crowded areas around roads in town to less congested areas further
away. However, IDPs view this initiative as an attempt at forced
relocation and are not cooperating with HAC. Traditional leaders
perceive the relocation as an attempt to weaken their authority by
separating their villages into multiple parts distributed around the
camp. U.N. agencies fear that the mixing of people from various
ethnic groups could result in conflict. (Note: In June 2006, a WFP

KHARTOUM 00000530 002.2 OF 002


registration intended to improve beneficiary targeting prompted
ethnic clashes resulting in three deaths. Due to the violence, no
subsequent registration attempts have taken place. End note.)

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SECURITY
--------

5. (U) HAC has negotiated a security agreement with several Arab
nomad groups in the Mornei vicinity who have established 17
checkpoints around the settlement to provide security to IDPs.
Beyond this cordon IDP security is not ensured. Several of the
nomadic groups providing security occupy villages destroyed and
abandoned earlier in the conflict; however, the scale of land
occupation is not clear. Although USAID staff observed several
women returning to town from gathering grass and wood, humanitarian
agencies reported that insecurity prevented vehicular travel outside
of Mornei town. The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in the
area has a positive relationship with IDPs and humanitarian
agencies, and maintains one civilian police (CIVPOL) station in
town. However, AMIS/CIVPOL will not patrol outside the station
without an AMIS protection force.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. (U) Humanitarian access in West Darfur is witnessing a limited
recovery compared to the situation in December 2006 when
humanitarian agencies had drawn down due to insecurity.
USAID-funded NGOs have been successful in stabilizing conditions for
IDPs by meeting their basic needs for water, health, hygiene, and
food. However, since November 2006, U.N. and NGO agencies have
observed efforts to restrict IDPs to camps, break up traditional
leadership structures, divide displaced groups, settle Arab nomadic
groups on displaced African land, and provide an alternative source
of humanitarian assistance accountable to the government.
Donor-funded humanitarian programs provide essential humanitarian
services to IDPs and local populations. Changes in the HAC's
attitude towards both IDPs and humanitarian agencies should be
monitored in Mornei and across Darfur over the coming months to
ensure continuation of an effective and non-politicized humanitarian
response. End comment.

HUME

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