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Cablegate: Darfur - Joint Communique - Where Are We Now?

VZCZCXRO5796
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0764/01 1351508
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151508Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7212
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000764

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 - JOINT COMMUNIQUE - WHERE ARE WE NOW?

REF: KHARTOUM 0510

KHARTOUM 00000764 001.2 OF 002


-------
SUMMARY
-------

(U) During a six-day visit to Darfur and Khartoum, aid agencies
briefed USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
(USAID/OFDA) Director following the Government of National Unity
(GNU) Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) meetings in each of the
three Darfur states and expressed renewed concern that the
agreements made in the Joint Communique would not be implemented.
Of all the Darfur states, the HAC-led meeting in South Darfur was
the most disconcerting to aid agencies and donors. The signing of
the March 28 Joint Communique on the facilitation of humanitarian
affairs in Darfur created optimism among UN agencies and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Darfur. It is
clear that while the Joint Communique is a positive step, achieving
implementation of the agreement requires strategic approaches and
coordination among all humanitarian actors. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------
OFDA DIRECTOR MEETS WITH HC/RC AND NGOS ON COMMUNIQUE
--------------------------------------------- --------

1. (U) On April 21, USAID/OFDA Director Ky Luu met with the Deputy
Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and
Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator (HC/RC) Manuel Aranda da Silva in
Khartoum to discuss the March 28 Joint Communique on the
facilitation of humanitarian affairs (REFTEL). The HC/RC expressed
optimism that the Joint Communique will improve the humanitarian
environment in Darfur. The HC/RC thanked USAID/OFDA for its stable
funding and noted that two thirds of funding for Darfur is provided
by USAID's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian
Assistance (USAID/DCHA) and the European Commission. The HC/RC
credited Ambassador Hume for his sustained diplomatic efforts in
negotiating the signing of the Joint Communique, which has resulted
in a much needed boost to NGO staff morale.

2. (U) The USAID/OFDA Director also met with the NGO Steering
Committee in Khartoum on April 22. The Steering Committee urged
USAID to encourage the HAC to fully implement the Joint Communique.
Referring to the current issue of transfer of NGO assets upon
project closure, committee members stated that the HAC may try to
divert attention from the "spirit of the Communique" by raising new
bureaucratic impediments such as the transfer of assets issue. The
Steering Committee members encouraged donors to stay focused on the
issues in the Communique that currently affect all NGOs instead of
focusing on those issues that fall outside of the Communique.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
HAC MEETS WITH AID COMMUNITY IN ALL THREE DARFUR STATES
--------------------------------------------- ----------

3. (U) From April 18 to 25, a team of Khartoum-based officials from
the HAC, Ministry of Interior, Customs Department, and National
Security traveled to all three Darfur state capitals to discuss the
Joint Communique with humanitarian actors. USAID staff originally
understood that the purpose of this trip was to increase awareness
among state-level authorities on the principles agreed to in the
Joint Communique and ensure that all states implemented the Joint
Communique uniformly.

4. (U) The USAID/OFDA Director had the opportunity to meet with NGOs
and UN agencies following the HAC meetings in the state capitals and
reported that in each state the meetings had different tones. By
all accounts, the meeting in South Darfur was particularly
contentious in tone and content. In the South Darfur meeting, HAC
officials intimidated the NGOs, dismissed NGO claims that there were
problems with travel permits and visa extensions, and stated that
donors had no role in the discussion of transfer of assets.
However, aid agencies in West and North Darfur states reported that
the HAC meetings had a less intimidating tone and acknowledged that
there had been problems in the past but that through implementing
the Joint Communique these problems could be resolved.

5. (U) The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) explained to USAID staff that in South Darfur the HAC team
had revised its presentation of the Joint Communique to reflect the
state officials' interpretation of the document. After the South
Darfur meeting, the HC/RC expressed less optimism that
implementation of the Joint Communique would be smooth and indicated
that the first high-level meeting would be tougher than originally

KHARTOUM 00000764 002.2 OF 002


anticipated.

----------------------------------
FIRST OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE MEETING
----------------------------------

6. (U) The first meeting of the oversight committee established to
monitor implementation of the principles agreed to in the Joint
Communique met in Khartoum on May 2. Prior to the meeting, donors
agreed that the donor observer to the high-level meeting would be
represented by an Ambassador and the United Kingdom (UK), the
European Commission (EC), and the United States would rotate the
responsibility. On May 2, the EC Ambassador attended the meeting,
representing the three major donors. At the May 2 meeting, the
Sudanese government representative stated that the six-month no
entry notation that had been stamped into aid workers' passports
when given final exit visas was a mistake and this policy only
applies to commercial workers and should not have been stamped into
aid workers' passports. Also during the meeting, it was decided
that donors will now be a part of the Joint Technical Group and will
be able to take part in the discussions and not merely observe the
proceedings. It was decided that labor issues and issues pertaining
to visas and customs would be taken up at next meeting. Overall,
the HC/RC felt the meeting was positive. Despite not having reached
agreement on all issues, several issues were resolved at the May 2
meeting.

--------
COMMENTS
--------

7. (U) Through its staff in Darfur and Khartoum, USAID/OFDA will
continue to monitor the implementation of the Joint Communique.
USAID/OFDA is concerned that differing interpretations of the
agreement in each state may diminish NGOs ability to advocate for
adherence to the Joint Communique with a unified voice.

8. (U) During his visit to Darfur and Khartoum, USAID/OFDA Director
encouraged NGOs to collaborate and approach the bureaucratic
impediments jointly. The USAID/OFDA Director remains optimistic
that the Joint Communique will have a positive impact on
bureaucratic impediments that hinder humanitarian work in Darfur.
However, donors, NGOs, and UN agencies need to continue to
coordinate efforts, share information, and strategically approach
solutions that benefit the collective humanitarian community.

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