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Cablegate: Southern Sudan - Displaced Southern Sudanese Returning Home

VZCZCXRO3900
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0801/01 1431205
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231205Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7292
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000801

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: SOUTHERN SUDAN - DISPLACED SOUTHERN SUDANESE RETURNING HOME
ON PAR WITH 2006 LEVELS

REF: KHARTOUM 0330

KHARTOUM 00000801 001.2 OF 002


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

(U) Thousands of Southern Sudanese displaced by conflict continue to
return to their places of origin from neighboring countries and from
all directions within Sudan with support from the jointly organized
UN, Government of National Unity (GNU), and Government of Southern
Sudan (GOSS) returns program. UN officials report that organized
returns in 2007 are on pace to double the number of 2006 assisted
returns, although overall returns for 2007 are anticipated to be
nearly the same as 2006, with approximately 500,000 people.
Spontaneous returns far exceed organized returns by at least two to
three fold, according to the International Organization of Migration
(IOM), the agency tasked with providing transport for the organized
returns. From May 1 to 6, USAID humanitarian staff visited Lakes,
Warab, and Western Bahr el Ghazal states. The staff observed that
the returns program varies in its effectiveness by state. The team
also concluded that USAID's community-based humanitarian strategy
helped lay a foundation for the new returnees to successfully
reintegrate. End Summary.

--------
OVERVIEW
--------

1. (U) As of early May, IOM reported to the USAID team that it had
assisted 26,000 displaced Sudanese to return home. IOM expects to
assist between 50,000 and 55,000 additional people to return home by
the end of 2007, a total of less than the original goal of 83,000
people. The shortfall is due, in part, to an initial reluctance of
internally displaced persons (IDPs) to participate in the program.
Now, the number of "no shows" is declining because IDPs have gained
confidence in the program and the school year in Khartoum has ended.
May rains have already made some county roads treacherous and will
soon render many roads impassable for vehicles, limiting returns and
humanitarian work.

2. (U) In Southern Sudan, IOM tracks the organized returns, and
Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC)
officials collect information on spontaneous returns. The
spontaneous returns will only receive returns packages if they are
registered with the SSRRC as returnees. However, USAID staff note
that in some instances returnees avoid official registration for
fear of being "taxed." According to USAID staff, the most accurate
figures for spontaneous returns come from the chiefs and
administrators at the boma and payam levels.

3. (U) USAID has provided over USD 500 million in humanitarian
assistance to Southern Sudan since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
was signed in January 2005, ending more than 20 years of civil war
that displaced millions. USAID, the largest donor in Southern
Sudan, prioritized assistance in the most severely conflict-affected
areas and where the most IDPs were expected to return. Since 2005,
USAID has supported more than 300 health clinics, built or
rehabilitated approximately 1,000 water points, fed millions of
people, and distributed seeds, tools, and relief commodities to
thousands. USAID assistance, delivered through more than 30
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies, has also
assisted in the sectors of local capacity building, education,
peacebuilding, income generation, and nutrition.

---------------------------------------
LAKES, WARAB, AND BAHR EL GHAZAL STATES
---------------------------------------

4. (U) LAKES STATE: On May 1, USAID visited a school on the
outskirts of Rumbek that served as a transit site for three days for
151 Dinka returnees to the area. A SSRRC official reported that 99
of the returnees arrived April 30 on an IOM-organized bus ride from
Khartoum via Kadugli with a layover at a Wau way station. In Wau,
they joined 52 refugees from Ethiopia who had just flown from
Gambela. On April 30, all 151 rode from Wau to Rumbek on IOM buses
where they received food and relief commodities before IOM
transported them to different areas in Lakes State. The assistance
package included: food rations from the UN World Food Program (WFP);
seeds and tools from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);
and relief commodities from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

5. (U) WARAB STATE: A WFP official in Gogrial East County reported

KHARTOUM 00000801 002.2 OF 002


that there were 25,000 IDPs registered to return to Warab State,
including 15,000 IDPs in Khartoum and 10,000 in Western Bahr el
Ghazal from Warab State. As of early May, IOM has helped
approximately 3,000 people return. According to WFP, there remains
a one-month window for IDPs to return this year before the rains
make roads impassable. In Gogrial East, SSRRC reported that IOM has
completed organized returns of 719 people, including 15 from Kenya,
316 from Khartoum, and 388 from Western Bahr el Ghazal State, while
8,000 have returned spontaneously. The returns represent an
increase in the overall Gogrial East population of approximately 5
percent during the first four months of 2007.

6. (U) WESTERN BAHR EL GHAZAL: According to IOM in Western Bahr el
Ghazal, 600 IDPs have returned to the state in 2007 in the organized
returns program and nearly 1,200 have returned spontaneously. WFP
provided a three-month food ration to the organized returnees upon
their arrival in Western Bahr el Ghazal, and UNICEF provided relief
commodities to those departing from Khartoum. The third portion of
the returns package, seeds and tools, has not yet been distributed
by FAO. IDPs returning within Southern Sudan receive food and
relief commodities at their final destination.

-----------------
PROTECTION ISSUES
-----------------

7. (U) An IOM protection officer told USAID staff that there are
reports that the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and police
have stopped spontaneous returnees in transit and demanded money.
If the IDPs have no money, the assailants have taken luggage, shoes,
mattresses, and other items. In addition, the SPLA and police
occasionally force the IOM organized returns convoys to carry their
friends and family, which is against IOM policy to only transport
returnees. Upon return, female-headed households often find that
they have lost claim to their deceased husband's shelter and land
because of male lineage traditions under which the husband's family
has claim to the couple's land. Men who married in IDP camps
without paying a dowry because of financial constraints and the
breakdown of traditions find that their wife's family will demand
the dowry to be paid upon return home.

-----------
CONCLUSIONS
-----------

8. (U) The number of spontaneous returns far exceeds organized
returns, and the ability of host communities and humanitarian
agencies to receive returnees varies greatly by state. Lakes State
provided a returns package within 72 hours, while in Warab State it
has taken humanitarian agencies weeks to distribute the returns
packages. USAID partner WFP is the strongest of the three UN
agencies contributing to the returns package of food, relief
commodities, and seeds and tools. USAID should continue to provide
targeted humanitarian assistance to the areas with the greatest
numbers of returns and with the lowest levels of basic services,
while working to transition to recovery and eventually
development-oriented assistance.

POWERS

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