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Cablegate: Darfur - Beida, West Darfur - Living On the Edge

VZCZCXRO5740
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0537/01 0950942
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050942Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6732
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000537

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
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 UN SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - BEIDA, WEST DARFUR - LIVING ON THE EDGE


KHARTOUM 00000537 001.2 OF 002


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Summary
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1. (U) On March 14, the first USAID team to visit Beida, West
Darfur, in more than 16 months traveled to the border town with
representatives of the U.K. Department for International Development
(DFID) to monitor humanitarian programs and assess current
conditions. Travel to the area had not been permitted previously
due to insecurity along the Chad-Sudan border. The USAID team found
that the situation in the town and internally displaced person (IDP)
camp had stabilized since the January 18 pre-emptive draw down of
relocatable staff triggered by the build up of Chadian armed
opposition groups in the area. On February 18, expatriate
humanitarian staff returned to Beida and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) are in the process of scaling up programs to
pre-December levels. However, armed opposition group movements,
tensions between dominant Arab groups and the local population, and
strained relations between Arab leaders and humanitarian agencies
present challenges to emergency relief efforts. End summary.

----------
Background
----------

2. (U) Humanitarian activities in the southwestern corridor of West
Darfur have suffered frequent program suspensions due to insecurity
in the border region. Beida's proximity to the Chad-Sudan border
has exposed it to repeated cross-border shelling and combatant
movements from Sudan in to Chad, resulting in four staff relocations
of NGO personnel since November 2006. The temporary establishment
of five Chadian armed opposition group camps, comprised of an
estimated 40 vehicles, represented the latest security threat
responsible for the January 18 evacuation of expatriate staff.

3. (U) Three international agencies, Tearfund, Medair, and Save the
Children/US (SC/US) support a combined IDP, Chadian refugee, and
host community population of 20,000 individuals in Beida. Through
implementing partner Tearfund, USAID nutrition and water,
sanitation, and hygiene programs supplement nutrition to 170
malnourished children monthly, educate 6,000 children biweekly on
improved hygiene practices, and provide access to clean water for
the general population. DFID-funded Medair health programming
provides health care services to approximately 110 people daily and
the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) delivers emergency food assistance
through implementing partner SC/US to approximately 20,000 people
per month. In addition, humanitarian agencies provide health and
food support to Chadians who cross the border in to Beida in search
of services and then return to Chad. Agencies on the ground
hypothesize that increased insecurity and a general lack of basic
services in eastern Chad account for the population movements.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Humanitarian Assistance in the Face of Obstacles
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (U) Despite the erratic presence of agencies on the ground in
Beida, humanitarian programming has continued due in large part to
the continued engagement of Tearfund's Sudanese staff in health,
hygiene, and nutrition support programs and the commercial transport
of medical supplies for the Medair-operated clinic. Along the
southwest corridor of West Darfur, ongoing USAID programs provide
essential services to more than 100,000 individuals. However,
insecurity has prevented the transport of drilling rigs to the area,
delaying efforts to improve access to water.

-----------------------------------
Strained Relations with Arab Groups
-----------------------------------

5. (U) Relations between humanitarian agencies and dominant Arab
groups in Beida are strained. USAID officers met with the local
emir, Ahmed Douai, and 14 sheikhs who predominantly represent Arab
nomads. (Note: The emir and 12 of the sheikhs are of Chadian origin
and entered Beida with the sheikh's brother, Mohammed Douai, during
the 1984-85 drought and later settled in the area in the 1990s. The
Arab sheiks are economically and politically dominant over the local
population. End note.) Arab leaders have requested additional
water points across the locality and a school for IDPs. The sheikhs
would like to construct a water tower in Beida to promote the
additional settlement of nomads in the area. However, an

KHARTOUM 00000537 002.2 OF 002


environmental assessment conducted by Tearfund indicated that the
water table would not be able to sustain the project.

-------------------------------------------
Willing Participants for Relocation Decline
-------------------------------------------

6. (U) In response to insecurity along the Chad-Sudan border, the
Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) supports a
voluntary relocation program for Chadian refugees from the border
area to Um Shalaya refugee camp near Mornei, West Darfur. However,
the number of refugee families willing to relocate has steadily
declined across the region. As of March 13, the number of families
in Ararah willing to relocate had declined from 200 to 126 and from
147 to 83 in Beida. The reason for the decline is unclear, but
humanitarian agencies believe that some refugees have begun to
return to Chad, although accurate information regarding the return
environment in eastern Chad is difficult to obtain.

-------
Comment
-------

7. (U) The reliability and capacity of humanitarian activities
along the Chad-Sudan border are intricately connected to the
cross-border security situation. Movements of armed groups and
manipulation of the social and political structure through the
importation and entrenchment of Arab Chadian groups and the
destruction of villages pose significantly challenges to the
targeting and provision of humanitarian assistance in Beida
locality. End comment.

HUME

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