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Cablegate: Sudan - S/E Natsios Meets with Ngos

VZCZCXRO6033
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1119/01 1991350
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181350Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7919
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001119

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 PBROWN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PGOV PHUM SOCI KPKO UN AU SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - S/E NATSIOS MEETS WITH NGOS


KHARTOUM 00001119 001.2 OF 002

1. Summary: On July 12, Special Envoy Andrew Natsios, accompanied by
Charge d'Affaires Alberto Fernandez and others, met with the
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Steering Committee in Khartoum
to discuss issues facing the humanitarian community in Sudan. The
NGOs noted that the Joint Communique has resulted in a reduction in
processing time for Darfur entry visas and travel permits, but that
staff working elsewhere in northern and eastern Sudan face growing
bureaucratic impediments. NGOs also expressed alarm over insecurity
in Darfur and concern over the U.N./African Union (AU) hybrid force,
requesting that the international community emphasize that the role
of any peacekeeping force is separate from that of humanitarian
organizations. End Summary.

--------------------
View from the Ground
--------------------

2. The NGOs began the meeting with a brief on northern Sudan.
Tensions around oil fields had increased in advance of the July 9
deadline for Sudanese Armed Forces and Sudan People's Liberation
Army (SPLA) troop movements in accordance with the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA), causing NGOs to reduce the number of staff
working around these areas. NGOs expressed concern that growing
field-level tension between the parties could lead to a rapid
outbreak of localized conflict, as happened in Malakal, Southern
Sudan, in November 2006. NGOs also reported that insecurity had
reduced access to Southern Kordofan and Abyei. The lack of
functioning governments in these areas hinders NGO efforts to begin
long-term development programs.

3. The NGO representatives reported that carjackings have risen 150
percent since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), and
kidnappings are on the rise in Darfur as well. NGOs believe that
some assailants temporarily kidnap humanitarian staff in order to
appear less suspicious and escape more quickly, assuming that no one
will risk shooting at a vehicle transporting aid workers. Although
no kidnappers have demanded ransom to date, S/E Natsios observed
that it was only a matter of time before this tactic was used. The
Zalingei area of West Darfur has been particularly unstable in
recent months, with NGOs forced to rent cars to deter carjackings.
Government police have just begun conducting more frequent patrols.
It remains unknown whether this will help curb violence against
humanitarians in Zalingei.

---------------------------------------------
Joint Communique and Bureaucratic Impediments
---------------------------------------------

4. The Joint Communique has improved bureaucratic processes for
NGOs operating in Darfur, although some procedures remain
problematic. The NGOs requested that donor governments continue to
ask questions about the progress of the communique. The High-Level
Committee overseeing the communique has been an especially useful
mechanism for addressing concerns, the NGOs reported. The committee
expects to have a complete list of agreed-upon processing times for
all procedures soon.

5. NGOs have observed that high-level Sudanese officials seem
genuinely interested in cooperating to resolve issues, but
working-level staff remain less helpful. Despite this, entry visas
are generally being issued within 48 hours as agreed to in the
communique. The government is taking less time to process travel
permits, although it still surpasses the timeframe described in the
communique. NGOs attributed this to the government's over-optimism
regarding the bureaucracy's abilities rather than a concerted effort
to hinder the travel of humanitarian staff. The NGOs reported that
the government continues to deny many NGOs permission to bring in
security officers, who are responsible for assessing local
conditions and making decisions about where NGO staff can safely
provide assistance. The government remains critical of any NGO
reporting on security information, even in the context of staff
safety.

6. Elsewhere in northern Sudan, bureaucratic impediments have
increased, the NGOs reported. NGO staff must wait for months before
receiving the necessary approvals to work in the Three Areas. The
process for obtaining permission to work in eastern Sudan can take
years.

----------------------------------

KHARTOUM 00001119 002.2 OF 002


Not the Right Time for Development
----------------------------------

7. Although NGOs acknowledge that reconstruction and development
are essential to sustainable peace in Darfur, all agree that the
time is not right for full-scale development and reconstruction to
begin. NGOs stressed the importance of sequencing reconstruction
assistance appropriately; otherwise, assistance risks being a
conflict dividend rather than a peace dividend. NGOs cautioned
donors from starting reconstruction and development programs in
areas that are relatively secure, because assistance may be
rewarding people who are occupying the land of internally displaced
persons (IDPs) who have fled the area.

8. NGOs also cautioned donors against giving in to the Sudanese
government pressure to support returns, noting that this could lead
to forced returns from IDP camps. NGOs stressed that conditions are
not conducive for large-scale voluntary return, given continued
insecurity. NGOs are working to improve assistance by taking
environmental effects into account, strengthening capacity-building,
and implementing limited livelihoods interventions to help people
cope more effectively.

----------------------------------
Peacekeeping and the Peace Process
----------------------------------

9. The NGOs stated that the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS)
was generally useless in the face of increased militarization in IDP
camps. Linking AMIS to the DPA had removed any credibility the
force once had with IDPs, according to the NGOs. The NGOs believe
that even the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) is now
tainted and seen as part of an AU effort that has been too partial
to DPA signatories. With regard to working with the new AMIS force
commander, S/E Natsios suggested that the NGOs might find it most
effective to propose three or four realistic, immediate actions that
the new commander could take to demonstrate leadership to the IDP
community.

10. The NGOs requested that any U.N. peacekeeping resolution
include language describing the "crystal clear separation" of
humanitarian work from peacekeeping work. The NGOs expressed
concern that the proposed U.N. resolution contained language
referencing the DPA, which could undermine the effectiveness of the
hybrid force. In response, S/E Natsios stated that one of the key
mandates of the hybrid force would be to implement a peace
agreement, likely to be the DPA and an annex. NGOs accepted this,
but stated that if the purpose of the hybrid force was publicized as
implementing the DPA, the force wouQnever be credible in the eyes
of Darfurians.

11. S/E Natsios and the NGOs agreed that IDP leaders are asking for
different things than opposition leaders. The NGOs stated that this
was a sign that civil society must be included in the peace process.
S/E Natsios noted that it was difficult to identify a small number
of participants who could represent all of civil society in Darfur.


12. S/E Natsios shared his observation that the opposition groups
had fragmented, and that while Abdul Wahid enjoyed popular support
in the IDP camps, he had been uncooperative in efforts to begin
negotiations. The NGOs then raised the issue of USG support for
Minni Minawi, whose forces the humanitarian community accuses of the
December 18 attack and rape of humanitarian staff in Gereida, South
Darfur, in addition to numerous carjackings. S/E Natsios clarified
that the USG had not provided any support for Minawi's forces to
date, and that the Government of National Unity had provided minimal
assistance to the group.

13. S/E Natsios did not have the opportunity to clear this message.


FERNANDEZ

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