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Cablegate: Darfur - Tawila Humanitarian Response On the Verge Of

VZCZCXRO4404
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0878/01 1551325
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041325Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7475
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000878

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 SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - TAWILA HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE ON THE VERGE OF
COLLAPSE

KHARTOUM 00000878 001.2 OF 002


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

(U) Following deteriorating security conditions in Tawila and the
surrounding area of El Fasher locality, North Darfur, the two
remaining relief agencies engaged in health programs withdrew staff
and closed operations in mid May. While the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to provide health services using
mobile health units, USAID staff note the potential for a worsening
humanitarian situation and population movements towards El Fasher
town for additional services. The recent withdrawal of relief
organizations from the Tawila area has the potential to jeopardize
humanitarian achievements to date and further strain limited
resources for communities in the El Fasher area. Non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) have asked that the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) provide a part-time
presence in Tawila in order to better understand local dynamics and
provide a buffer for the humanitarian community in the event of a
return of NGO staff. End summary.

-----------------
TAWILA IN CONTEXT
-----------------

1. (U) Maintaining a humanitarian presence in Tawila is crucial to
preventing a deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the
potential movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to nearby
El Fasher. In May 2007, a sustained and worsening trend of
carjackings and attacks on relief agencies and staff members led the
UN to classify Tawila as the most dangerous area in Darfur.

2. (U) Securing safe access for humanitarian operations in Tawila is
hampered by the presence of four of the major armed factions in
Darfur, including the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) factions under
Minni Minawi (SLA/Minawi), Abdul Wahid (SLA/Wahid), and Abdul Shafi
(SLA/Shafi), the National Redemption Front (NRF), as well as the
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). In addition, increased banditry,
targeted attacks against humanitarian workers and assets, and
confusion among aid agencies over which commanders to negotiate
with, have created an unstable and unsafe operating environment for
humanitarian agencies.

3. (U) Following the signature of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)
in May 2006, a significant split among SLA leadership led to
factional clashes in Tawila and surrounding villages. Currently,
SLA/Minawi controls Tawila town while most of the surrounding
villages are controlled by field commanders loyal to SLA/Wahid. The
Sudanese government controls the area surrounding the Tawila police
force base.

4. (U) In August 2006, the last two humanitarian agencies in Tawila,
USAID partner Relief International (RI) and Save the Children/Sweden
(SC/Sweden), relocated staff and suspended activities following the
carjacking at gunpoint of two RI vehicles from inside the NGO
compound. In October 2006, OCHA advocated for a return to Tawila
area. Several organizations, including RI, SC/Sweden, and the
German NGO Partner Aid International (PAI), resumed activities in
January and February 2007.

---------------------------------
CURRENT SITUATION - NGOS WITHDRAW
---------------------------------

5. (U) Between late April and early May 2007, the last two NGOs
providing health services in Tawila ceased all operations and
withdrew from the area following multiple carjackings and attacks on
staff members. Although the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) will continue to provide basic medical services through
mobile health clinics, the lack of a sustained presence in Tawila
jeopardizes previous gains in humanitarian indicators and could lead
to a deterioration in conditions for residents and IDPs.

6. (U) On April 25, armed men abducted and severely beat an RI
vaccination team in Dabaneyra village, located in rural Tawila. RI
had operated in the Tawila area since March 2005, and maintained
relationships with local leaders, health committees, and armed
opposition groups to build support for relief activities and secure
safe passage for humanitarian staff. However, the growing number of
armed groups active in the area made it increasingly difficult to

KHARTOUM 00000878 002.2 OF 002


sustain operations. Within the past 13 months, assailants
threatened or attacked RI health and nutrition staff 11 times and
stole four RI vehicles. The NGO suspended operations for safety and
security reasons on at least four occasions. Following the recent
attack, RI officially closed operations in Tawila.

7. (U) On May 14, armed assailants carjacked two PAI vehicles in two
separate incidents in the Tawila area. The first incident occurred
between Khanzan Tunjur and Tarni during a medical assistance trip.
The second carjacking took place in the PAI medical facility, where
the carjackers shot and injured a PAI national staff member. The
two attacks left PAI without a means of communicating and without
vehicles needed to run mobile health clinics in the Tawila area. As
a result, PAI has ceased health activities in Tawila. ICRC remains
the only organization providing health services in the region
through mobile health units. The UN World Food Program plans to
continue food aid distribution in Tawila via the Sudanese Red
Crescent.

----------
CONCLUSION
----------

8. (U) Without improvements in the security environment which may
ultimately lead to the return of relief agencies to Tawila,
displaced populations in Tawila risk going without adequate services
and may seek services in nearby El Fasher. The result would be a
strain on already limited resources in El Fasher, may possibly
require the creation of a new camp to support new arrivals in El
Fasher, and will further complicate humanitarian service delivery.


9. (U) NGOs have requested OCHA to establish a part-time presence in
the Tawila area. Possible benefits of an OCHA presence include
improved understanding of the dynamic security situation in Tawila
and nearby villages through regular communication with local leaders
and armed opposition groups. In the event of a renewed NGO presence
in Tawila, OCHA would be well positioned to serve as a buffer for
the humanitarian community, potentially resulting in fewer security
incidents against aid workers.

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