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Cablegate: Darfur - Humanitarian Access Down by 40 Percent in South

VZCZCXRO8040
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0775/01 1370706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170706Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7236
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000775

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 - HUMANITARIAN ACCESS DOWN BY 40 PERCENT IN SOUTH
DARFUR


KHARTOUM 00000775 001.2 OF 002


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

(U) According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), aid agencies now have 40 percent less access to
conflict-affected populations, including internally displaced
persons (IDPs), in South Darfur than they had one year ago. Relief
agencies consistently cite limited humanitarian access as one of the
major obstacles in Darfur. Insecurity, direct targeting of
humanitarian agencies, and administrative delays hinder daily
operations for non-governmental organization (NGO) working in
Darfur. In meetings with USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster
Assistance (USAID/OFDA) Director Ky Luu, OCHA stated that
humanitarian agencies access to affected populations in Darfur
decreases by one area per week and expect that this will very
quickly begin to impact the health and nutritional status of
affected populations in the coming months. Regaining humanitarian
space largely hinges on a successful political solution to the
Darfur conflict, according to the humanitarian actors that the
USAID/OFDA Director met with in the state capitals. End Summary.

1. (U) In all three Darfur states, an estimated 900,000 people out
of a total affected population of 3.8 million people currently can
not be accessed by aid agencies. The inaccessible populations live
in rural areas outside of towns or IDP settlements with helicopter
landing sites. USAID/OFDA is concerned that the humanitarian
community is losing ground and increasingly unable to provide
life-saving services to hundreds of thousands of IDPs. If the
populations can not access water or health services they may begin
to migrate to other areas, which would further complicate the
displacement situation and increase demands on aid agencies. The
rainy season is expected to begin in May, which has historically
decreased fighting and insecurity in Darfur. However, the rains
also render roads impassible, which will further limit access to
rural populations.

------------
NORTH DARFUR
------------

2. (U) In North Darfur, humanitarian access is limited by banditry,
insecurity, fighting, and occasional Sudanese government bombings in
rural areas. The International Rescue Committee told the USAID/OFDA
Director that over the last nine months it had been unable to access
beneficiaries living along the El Fasher-Kutum road. While agencies
are able to fly to Kutum town, providing services outside of town
has been severely limited. The same holds true for most of North
Darfur's other towns, with the town being accessible and the rural
areas unreachable.

3. (U) On April 23, staff from the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) briefed the USAID/OFDA Director on population
movements in North Darfur. IOM reported that unconfirmed displaced
populations have returned to Dar Zagawa area near Umm Baru, Kutum
locality. According to IOM, as camps become more insecure,
populations are beginning to return to Dar Zagawa. IOM stated that
it is a major protection concern to have an unmonitored population
shifting north to Dar Zagawa area in the dry season. IOM also
stated that the OCHA displacement figures are often inaccurate as
they rely on estimates provided by community leaders and are not
verified through standardized assessment procedures. Both OCHA and
IOM reported that providing assistance in the Kutum locality needs
to be approached cautiously in order to avoid creating a pull factor
for the 90,000 Sudanese refugees living in Chad, just across the
border. USAID/OFDA is concerned that the current movements of
displaced populations are unmonitored and that insecurity may
prevent the humanitarian community from providing services to the
displaced populations.

------------
WEST DARFUR
------------

4. (U) On April 24, the UN Country Team in El Geneina briefed the
USAID/OFDA Director on the current humanitarian situation. The UN
staff stated that the humanitarian community has nearly "lost its
grip" on the humanitarian situation in the rural areas and that
relief operations are concentrated in the 15 to 20
helicopter-accessible locations. In West Darfur, there are
approximately 50 IDP settlements, although the number of settlements
is currently expanding and the new areas require additional

KHARTOUM 00000775 002.2 OF 002


assistance. In addition, the UN team commented that humanitarian
assistance has adapted to the chronic insecurity by conducting "hit
and run" operations. Although less than ideal, these operations
have been able to stabilize a good portion of the population and
continue to provide assistance to 800,000 people out of a total
population of 1.8 million in West Darfur. The Kulbus corridor has
been particularly volatile. Since July 2006, relief agencies have
been relocated from Kulbus area three times.

5. (U) The situation in Zalingei and Jebel Marra localities differs
from the western part of West Darfur significantly. In Jebel Marra,
humanitarian access is limited by ongoing fighting between the
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Liberation Army faction
led by Abdul Wahid (SLA/Wahid), according to OCHA.

------------
SOUTH DARFUR
------------

6. (U) According to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) staff in Nyala,
South Darfur is affected less by aerial bombing and fighting between
SAF and opposition groups than the other states. However, South
Darfur is most affected by interethnic fighting and has recorded the
highest number of newly displaced people since January. In Kass and
Buram localities, interethnic fighting has displaced thousands of
people since December 2006. In March, aid agencies were able to
access populations in Kass on a limited basis. In Buram, access to
the populations has been more or less cut-off for more than six
months, many of the people from Buram are arriving in Nyala-area IDP
camps such as Otash. OCHA described the humanitarian impact of
restricted access, conflict, and insecurity as causing displacement
and dispersement into rural areas, where aid agencies can not reach
the populations. In addition, OCHA cautioned that while private
contractors may be able to deliver aid, the contractors will have to
pay protection money, which will fuel insecurity.

7. (U) The impact of the January 19 incident in Nyala, when 20 aid
workers were attacked and arrested at a social gathering, has also
reduced humanitarian space. The incident has impacted staff morale,
security, and the organizations' operations. Aid workers are
increasingly violently targeted, impacting relief programs,
particularly in South Darfur.

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

8. (U) While humanitarian access has been a major concern since May
2006, USAID/OFDA sees this trend as especially concerning. As
access continues to decline, needs are increasing. Since January,
OCHA has reported more than 100,000 newly displaced people in
Darfur, many of whom require food, relief commodities, and shelter
materials. Those that arrive in camps or organized IDP settlements
will receive services, but those that are dispersed into rural areas
will not receive immediate assistance. USAID/OFDA staff will
coordinate with NGO and UN partners to monitor the situation and
ensure that as much of the conflict-affected population receives
assistance. However, a political solution leading to a more stable
security situation in Darfur is critical to preventing a further
deterioration of humanitarian space.

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