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Cablegate: Sudan - Disaster Declaration for Flooding in Sudan

VZCZCXRO7406
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1124/01 2001619
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191619Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7926
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001124

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, USAID/SFO AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND TSHORTLEY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - DISASTER DECLARATION FOR FLOODING IN SUDAN

KHARTOUM 00001124 001.2 OF 003


1. Summary: This cable declares a disaster due to flooding in Sudan
and requests U.S. Government (USG) emergency assistance for those in
need. Unseasonably heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding since
late June have affected hundreds of thousands people in Khartoum,
Northern Kordofan, White Nile, Kassala, Red Sea, Gezira, Sennar, and
Blue Nile states in northern Sudan, according to Government of
National Unity (GNU) officials and humanitarian organizations.
Exact numbers of damaged and destroyed houses, displaced
individuals, and deaths remain difficult to ascertain, as many
flood-affected areas are still unreachable. Assessments are
ongoing. To date, the U.N. and partners have distributed supplies
to 111,000 flood-affected people. As of July 19, the most-affected
areas are Northern Kordofan, Khartoum, and Kassala states. The USG
has been in contact with the GNU, U.N. agencies, and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to coordinate a response for
flood-affected communities. In lieu of requesting the Ambassador's
Authority funds of USD 50,000, post understands that USAID's Office
of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) intends to provide
USD 300,000 to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) for distribution of
emergency relief supplies in flood-affected areas. Post concurs
with this decision and additional assistance will be requested of
USAID/OFDA if needed. End summary.

-----------------
Current Situation
-----------------

2. Water levels along the Blue Nile River and the Gash River
continue to rise to levels that threaten further flooding in the
coming weeks. The current flooding began a month earlier than the
seasonal flooding in 2006. Many agencies fear that the flood season
will be prolonged and damages in 2007 will exceed those in 2006.
Relief agencies and local authorities have not yet been able to
access and assess all flood-affected areas, but plan to do so in the
coming weeks.

3. Khartoum State: In the Khartoum area, heavy rainfall since July
7 has destroyed between 6,300 and 6,800 houses and affected
approximately 12,650 households, according to USAID, NGOs, and
government officials. USAID partner CARE and other NGOs have
distributed relief supplies to more than 5,000 families in Jebel
Aulia and Mayo internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Khartoum.
Humanitarian agencies have requested that the GNU clear blocked
channels in the camps to open drainage to prevent additional
flooding and mitigate the spread of waterborne diseases. On July
18, USAID staff visited Khartoum North and reported that the state
and local government agencies have done an excellent job of meeting
needs following flooding in low-lying rural areas.

4. Northern Kordofan State: Northern Kordofan State is currently
among the most-affected areas due to excessive flooding caused by
heavy rainfall. According to the U.N. Joint Logistics Center
(UNJLC) and UNICEF, heavy rains on July 7 affected an estimated
12,000 households in the state, including El Obeid, a major
logistics hub for the humanitarian operation in Sudan. UNJLC and
UNICEF cautioned that 12,000 is an estimated planning figure only,
and that many affected areas remain inaccessible, making it
difficult to report on damaged or destroyed homes. As of July 14,
some villages remained inaccessible by road and were unable to
communicate using telephone or radio. A joint U.N., NGO, and GNU
Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) committee has been established to
coordinate flood response. As of July 14, the Northern Kordofan
State Government claimed to have distributed 1,000 sacks of 90 kg
sorghum per locality, as well as 800 tents, 5,700 plastic sheets and
500 mosquito nets for the six localities. However, no independent
sources can confirm that such assistance has been provided. The
Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRC) distributed 110 tents, 500
plastic sheets, and 425 blankets in different locations. U.N.
agencies and NGOs plan to distribute relief supplies in the coming
days.

5. Kassala State: According to the U.N. Resident Coordinator's
Office, flooding of the Gash River has affected more than 16,345
households in Kassala State. The most-affected area is currently
New Halfa, west of Kassala town, where 3,090 households have
experienced flood-related damage. NGOs and U.N. agencies have
mobilized to provide sufficient support to affected areas, including
providing assistance by boat to the town of Aroma. (Note: Flood
waters have receded from Aroma. An evacuation of the entire town
had been considered earlier in July. End note.)

6. Blue Nile, Red Sea, Gezira, and Sennar States: U.N. agencies,

KHARTOUM 00001124 002.2 OF 003


NGOs, and local officials report varying levels of damage in Blue
Nile State from flooding of the Blue Nile River. According to
information compiled by the U.N. Resident Coordinator's Office, 562
households have been affected; however, local officials informed the
U.N. World Health Organization that 2,265 households were affected.
While various sources anecdotally report that flooding has affected
Red Sea, Gezira, and Sennar states, to date no information is
available on these areas.

7. White Nile State: According to USAID partner Adventist
Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), heavy rains and flooding since
June 30 have affected more than 2,500 households in Kosti, Rabak,
and Tendelti towns in White Nile State. On July 2, ADRA, Fellowship
for African Relief, the GNU HAC, and SRC conducted a house-to-house
assessment. Nearly 1,600 houses were destroyed, and nearly 1,000
additional homes sustained damage. Three bridges collapsed in
Rabak. Stagnant water in homes, yards, and roads remains a pressing
issue. ADRA and FAR are distributing water containers, shelter
materials, sleeping mats, and kitchen supplies to more than 850
households. UNICEF provided 1,000 mosquito nets and enough soap for
1,000 families to the White Nile State Ministry of Health. The GNU
HAC reportedly is providing 9 MT of food. Other humanitarian needs
include mosquito nets, plastic sheeting, digging tools for stagnant
water drainage, sprayers and insecticides, and essential drugs.

---------------------
Humanitarian Response
---------------------

8. The U.N. Resident Coordinator's Office is coordinating the flood
response for U.N. agencies and NGOs. In accessible areas, relief
agencies have mobilized to provide supplies such as water
containers, blankets, and plastic sheeting, in addition to emergency
food rations. In response to flooding countrywide, the U.N. plans
to provide USD 1.5 million from the Common Humanitarian Fund for
Sudan and an unspecified amount from the global U.N. Central
Emergency Response Fund, in addition to releasing an emergency
appeal for flood response.

------------
GNU Response
------------

9. The GNU HAC is coordinating the national response. State-level
emergency committees are coordinating flood response efforts,
including dissemination of information on affected areas, monitoring
water levels, draining water, and providing relief supplies to
affected populations. The GNU has estimated that as many as 1
million people could be affected by flooding in the coming weeks.
(Comment: USAID staff note that the estimate does not appear to be
based on assessments or other reliable data. UNJLC has already
distributed supplies to 111,000 people countrywide, and that number
is expected to climb to 185,000 after distributions in El Obeid in
the coming days. End comment.)

10. A recent Sudan Vision article reported that communities at risk
were not receiving or heeding flood early-warning messages from the
government. However, the GNU is communicating early-warning
information about water levels and rainfall forecasts to the
humanitarian community via a newsletter. In recent years,
USAID/OFDA has helped strengthen Sudanese early-warning efforts. In
2004 USAID/OFDA deployed a hydrometeorological hazard advisor to
evaluate flood mitigation options in the Gash River Basin. In 2005
USAID/OFDA held a workshop with the U.N. Educational, Scientific,
and Cultural Organization and the University of Khartoum Engineering
Department to train water resource managers.

------------
USG Response
------------

11. Charge d'Affaires Alberto Fernandez has determined that the
flooding in Sudan meets the necessary criteria for the USD 300,000
to be released: 1) A flood disaster exists in Sudan; 2) The GNU does
not object to USG providing emergency assistance; and 3) Such
assistance is in the USG's interest.

12. Embassy Khartoum, USAID/Sudan, and USAID/OFDA are coordinating
an emergency response. USAID/OFDA has a team on the ground in
Khartoum overseeing daily coordination and communication of the
evolving situation, including attending GNU meetings, conducting
assessments, and coordinating flood response activities with U.N.

KHARTOUM 00001124 003.2 OF 003


agencies and NGOs.

13. In consultation with the USAID/OFDA team in Khartoum, post
understands that USAID/OFDA intends to provide UNICEF with USD
300,000 for the provision of emergency relief supplies. Post
concurs with this decision and does not request the USD 50,000 in
Ambassador's Authority funds at this time. The grant to UNICEF will
be processed by USAID/Washington.

14. USAID/OFDA plans to assess damage in Khartoum IDP camps,
Northern Kordofan State, and Kassala State in the coming weeks.
USAID/Sudan will continue to monitor the situation as the rainy
season progresses.

FERNANDEZ

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