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Cablegate: Ethiopia: (C-Al7-01035) Unocha Reports Emergency

VZCZCXRO9495
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDS #2439/01 2141617
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021617Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7298
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ADDIS ABABA 002439

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF, AF/E, INR/AA, AND PRM/AFR
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA AND USCENTCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV PINS PHUM EAID EAGR ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: (C-AL7-01035) UNOCHA REPORTS EMERGENCY
FOOD STILL NOT DELIVERED TO OGADEN

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 2413 (AND PREVIOUS)

B. ADDIS ABABA 2415
C. ADDIS ABABA 2376
D. STATE 83346 (NOTAL)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. An August 2 briefing by the UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports
that despite the recent decision by Somali Region officials
to allow emergency food relief to the Ogaden area---where
military operations against suspected Ogaden National
Liberation Front (ONLF) insurgents are continuing--no such
food delivery has been undertaken yet. Moreover, GOE
restrictions on commercial food remain in effect and are
being strictly enforced by the military. UN agencies and
NGOs, including WFP, concur that the resumption of commercial
food deliveries to the area is key, especially as the
emergency allocation represents only one-eighth of the food
needed by the population. UN officials report incidents of
alleged forced displacement and extrajudicial killings
(including the alleged hanging by the military of 13
villagers), but note that abuses have also been attributed to
the ONLF. While the foreign ministry asserts that ICRC was
expelled from the Ogaden because it was collaborating with
the ONLF, the GOE's acceptance of UN agencies and NGOs
working on health issues (such as cholera) may provide an
opening for expanding humanitarian access to the Ogaden. END
SUMMARY.

----------------------------------------
ETHIOPIAN MILITARY TO ESCORT FOOD RELIEF
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On August 2, UNOCHA Head of Office and Deputy to the
Humanitarian Coordinator Paul Hebert briefed humanitarian
NGOs, UN agencies, and donor representatives on his
consultations with Somali Region officials during a visit to
Jijiga, capital of Ethiopia's Somali Region.

-- EMERGENCY FOOD STILL NOT DELIVERED TO OGADEN: Hebert
underscored that the GOE had not banned humanitarian relief,
but noted that no allocation had been made. The WFP,
federal-level Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency
(DPPA) and the regional state-level Disaster Prevention and
Preparedness Bureau (DPPB) were still in the process of
working out "modalities" to deliver emergency food to the 5
conflict zones. The GOE was supposed to have delivered food
to the 5 zones in the previous zone, but had not.

-- MILITARY ESCORT TO ZONES: WFP reported that military
escort of food convoys was "unavoidable." The Ethiopian
military would escort emergency food convoys at the zonal
level, but that distribution would be under the DPPB, not
under military escort. It was not yet clear whether 40
distribution points identified by the DPPA, DPPB, and WFP
would be used. "With the consent of the military," trucks
were expected to depart Dire Dawa on August 3 for delivery in
the following week to 2 woredas (out of 4) in Warder; the 2
woredas were outside the area of current military operations.

-- BAN OF COMMERCIAL FOOD CONTINUES: GOE restrictions on
commercial food in the Ogaden were still in effect and
strictly enforced, according to Hebert. GOE officials
(including the head of the regional justice bureau) justified
the ban on "contraband" as being "essential" and one that
would last for several more weeks. Officials asserted that
food trucks had been used previously to smuggle arms to the
ONLF. While some food had been trucked to the towns of
Kebridehar (Korahe Zone), Fik, and Warder (i.e., in three of
the five zones where military operations against the ONLF are
continuing), Hebert said both NGOs and local officials
reported that the military was not allowing food to leave the
towns but was confiscating it at checkpoints.

-- COMMERCIAL FOOD IS WHAT IS NEEDED: A key finding of an
UNOCHA report to UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes
was that restrictions on the transport and delivery of
commercial food were "the most important impediment" to food
security in the Ogaden, as 90 percent of food availability
depended on commercial--not emergency--food. Thus, the

ADDIS ABAB 00002439 002 OF 004


delivery of humanitarian food relief was not key; if
commercial food were allowed, the Somali Region would not be
experiencing a "food crisis." WFP Officer-in-Charge Sonali
Wickrema noted that the current emergency food allocation
totaled only 4,000 metric tons, whereas WFP assessed some
30,000 metric tons were needed for the Ogaden per month.

-- ADDITIONAL FOOD ASSESSMENTS NEEDED: While joint
assessments for the current "Gu" (rainy) season had been done
for all zones of the Somali Region, and showed that good rain
and other factors had led to "very little need" for
humanitarian food assistance, the methodology of such
assessments did not/not take into account the lack of
commercial food, the closure of borders, or population
displacement. (NOTE: In fact, the partner-funded assessment
teams were unable to travel to large areas of 4 of the 5
conflict zones; see REF A. END NOTE.) Additional
assessments would thus be required in the future.

--------------------------------------------- -----
GOE ACCUSES ICRC OF COLLABORATING WITH ONLF REBELS
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. (SBU) Military operations against suspected insurgents
continued. While the foreign ministry asserted that ICRC's
expulsion from the Somali Region was a local, not federal,
decision, the foreign ministry had accused the ICRC of
collaborating with the ONLF:

-- There was "no apparent relaxation" of military activities
in the Ogaden. Hebert reported that the regional government
had increased the Somali Region security budget from 15 to 53
million birr (USD 5.8 million), the bulk of which would go to
government militia. No one had the ability to move freely in
the Ogaden without dealing with "cumbersome procedures"; GOE
approval was required to leave major towns.

-- There were 4 non-Ogadeni woredas where there were no
military operations ongoing: Misrak Gashamo (Degehabur Zone)

-- A July 29 landmine incident--involving a vehicle belonging
to the Ogaden Welfare and Development Association (OWDA)
traveling east from Degehamedo to Degehabur Woredas (in
Degehabur Zone)--killed three individuals (ref B). The
incident raised concerns about the safety of UN and NGO
personnel, should they be allowed to travel to the Ogaden.
UNOCHA Information and Advocacy Officer Greg Beals said that
UNOCHA assumed the ONLF were using landmines to target ENDF
military vehicles, as they were the only ones on the roads;
the ONLF had not previously used landmines against civilian
vehicles.

-- Hebert noted that an August 1 foreign ministry statement
asserts that the ICRC had been asked to leave at the request
of the regional government, and that the ICRC was
collaborating with the ONLF. He said there were
"indications" of a government committee being formed to
examine activities of other NGOs, but noted that no other
NGOs had been asked to depart the Somali Region. Hebert said
the UN may issue a statement calling for the return of the
ICRC, as the ICRC's presence was "crucial."

--------------------------------------------- --------
UN MAY REQUEST GOE TO INVESTIGATE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
--------------------------------------------- --------

4. (SBU) UNOCHA's report recommended that the UN Emergency
Relief Coordinator John Holmes request--through the GOE
PermRep to the UN in New York--that the GOE conduct an
investigation of allegations of instances of violations of
international humanitarian law, such as allegations of burnt
villages and extrajudicial killings. UN officials noted the
GOE's obligations to observe international humanitarian law,
which applied to civil wars. The ICRC had declared the
situation in the Ogaden to be a "non-international conflict,"
requiring both the ENDF and ONLF to observe international
norms.

5. (SBU) Hebert said the UN had "corroboration," but not

ADDIS ABAB 00002439 003 OF 004


confirmation, of villages being burnt, villagers being
harassed or killed extrajudiciously, and denial of access to
water. Several alleged incidents of forced displacement and
alleged extrajudicial killings included:
-- In Kebridehar, a military commander had told local elders
to assembly villages into 4 specific villages; all other
areas were considered "off-limits."
-- In Warder), non-ethnic Ogadeni villagers were reportedly
told to "help the government" or else they would be "treated
like Ogadeni."
-- In an unspecified village, the military had allegedly
rounded up 13 villages by name, removed them to another
location, and then killed them by hanging them from the side
of the road. Hebert said this incident had been reported by
multiple UN and ONLF sources.
-- Hebert hastened to add that there were "similar reports"
of abuses attributed to the ONLF, as well as the Ethiopian
military; "all sides" were committing "human rights
violations."

6. (SBU) The UN was reviewing whether it should seek a
"semi-permanent presence" in the 5 conflict zones of the
Ogaden, in order to enhance its ability to provide protection
and monitoring. Currently, UN agencies were based only in
Jijiga (outside the Ogaden) and Gode.

-------------------------------------------
HEALTH A CONCERN--AND POTENTIAL ENTRY POINT
-------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) UNOCHA Head of Office Hebert highlighted the GOE's
acceptance of UN agencies and NGOs working on health issues,
such as acute watery diarrhea (AWD) or cholera, to note that
this could provide an "entry point" in an incremental
approach to expanding humanitarian access to the Ogaden. The
head of the Somali Region health bureau had called for "as
many health NGOs as possible" to come to the Region. The UN
would therefore push for a joint assessment, via the WHO and
the GOE Ministry of Health; discussions on "modalities" were
underway.
-- WHO representative, noting that WHO was based in Jijiga,
said WHO lacked the capacity to monitor health conditions in
the Somali Region, and appealed for information from NGOs.
-- According to Hebert, the Somali Region health bureau
reported "severe malnutrition" in 5 specific woredas: Segeg,
Gerbo, and Dihun (in Fik Zone); Degehamedo (in neighboring
Degehabur Zone); and Denan (in Gode Zone). Deaths from
AWD/cholera were also reported in Fik. AWD had previously
been reported throughout the Ogaden, but no detailed
information had been received on the situation since (the
launch of the counterinsurgency) in May. Local health
officials were appealing for international and NGO assistance.
-- MSF-Holland representative noted that MSF did not observe
a health crisis in Warder Zone. When conducting 5 mobile
clinics in the Ogaden, MSF-Holland had been able to access
villages. MSF was reassessing security in Warder, which it
vacated following an ONLF attack on the ENDF garrison town,
but MSF would not accept military escort. MSF-Belgium was
pushing to open a project in Fik.

8. (SBU) COMMENT. To exchange further information on the
situation in the Somali Region, and to consider alternatives
for future action, Ambassador will convene a meeting of UN
agencies, USAID-funded NGOs operating in the Ogaden, and key
donor embassies, on August 3--following up on a similar
meeting held July 3. The UN publicly calling for the return
of the ICRC to the Somali Region could further strain GOE
relations with the ICRC, which so far has maintained a
low-key approach to its expulsion, and which has not been
asked to curtail its other operations throughout Ethiopia.
The ICRC was likely expelled because of its sensitive work on
human rights: in May, it had presented a report on the
Ethiopian military's activities in the Ogaden, and its effect
on the civilian population, to a senior ENDF principal (ref
C). If so, then any potential USG interventions on behalf of
the ICRC should highlight the ICRC's work on health and water
issues, rather than the ICRC's equally important--but more
politically sensitive--work on international humanitarian
law. END COMMENT.

ADDIS ABAB 00002439 004 OF 004


YAMAMOTO

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