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Cablegate: Chinese Have yet to Begin Nyala Supercamp Construction

VZCZCXRO0353
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2058/01 3611551
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271551Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9626
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 002058

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: CHINESE HAVE YET TO BEGIN NYALA SUPERCAMP CONSTRUCTION

REFERENCE: (A) KHARTOUM 1906
(B) KHARTOUM 1866
(C) KHARTOUM 1735
(D) KHARTOUM 2048

1. (SBU) Summary: Chinese Defense Attache told poloff December 24
that Chinese engineers have not started construction on the Nyala
supercamp and are still waiting for AMIS escort of heavy
construction equipment (Ref A) which arrived in Sudan November 10.
Dong said he was comfortable with the progress on the SOFA and said
he had been assured by UNAMID that AMIS/UNAMID force protection
would be improved with the transition. He opined that the
elimination of the MSA is good, and was unaware that starting
January 1 many of the operations and maintenance duties now
performed by PAE at AMIS camps would be the responsibility of
UNAMID. End summary.

2. (SBU) Chinese Defense Attache Colonel Dong Jian Dong told poloff
on December 24 that as of December 23 the 140 Chinese engineers in
Nyala have not started construction of the engineer's tent housing
due to the delay of heavy construction equipment and therefore have
not started construction of the Nyala supercamp. He said that half
of the engineer's heavy equipment remains 120 kilometers from Nyala
waiting for an AMIS protective convoy to escort it to Nyala. He
said that he has asked AMIS to provide a reason for the delay but
has not received a reply. Dong added that the rest of heavy
equipment, which arrived in Khartoum on November 10, is still
"enroute" to Nyala but he had no estimated date for its arrival.

3. (SBU) Dong said that without the heavy equipment the Chinese are
unable to clear the ground to erect tents to house the 315 Chinese
engineers. For the time being, Dong said the first tranche of
Chinese engineers are housed at AMIS' Forward Operating Base (FOB).

4. (SBU) The Chinese estimate that it will take two to three weeks
to construct the housing for the Chinese engineers once the heavy
equipment arrives, but completion would be subject to arrival of
additional supplies and materials from China. He said that these
items left China roughly December 14 and should arrive in Port Sudan
perhaps as early as January 3. However, Dong repeated earlier
concerns that customs delays and transport problems from Port Sudan
to Nyala will push this date back considerably, and hence will
further delay construction of the supercamp.

SOFA AND FORCE PROTECTION
-------------------------

5. (SBU) Regarding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for UNAMID,
Dong said he felt "comfortable" with the progress he had seen. He
said that because Chinese soldiers had no contact with Sudanese,
there is little need for a SOFA, and added that he had the
assurances of the GOS that Chinese soldiers had the status of
"diplomats." As for force protection of his engineers, he said that
AMIS patrols regularly but "not aggressively." Dong said he visited
Darfur on December 20 and that UNAMID Chief of Staff Patrick
Davidson-Houston assured him that once the transition occurred,
African troops under UNAMID command would increase their patrols.

6. (SBU) Regarding the recent Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
attack on Chinese-owned oil facilities in Kordofan, Dong said that
this was not a JEM attack but the work of "bandits." He said that
JEM had been associated with the attack only because JEM, for
propaganda purposes, had claimed responsibility. He said that the
SAF had captured most of the attackers who turned out to have
historic but very old links to the JEM.

STOPPING THE MSA
----------------

7. (SBU) Dong opined that UNAMID's plan to stop paying the Mission
Subsistence Allowance (MSA) to rebel representatives is a good idea.
He totally discounted the idea that the MSA payments increased
security for AMIS troops and countered that enabling rebel
representatives to have free access to AMIS camps reduced security.

UNAMID TRANSITION
-----------------

8. (SBU) Dong was unaware that beginning January 1 operations and
maintenance (O&M) functions such as sewage treatment operations and
electrical generator maintenance currently performed by PAE would be
turned over to UNAMID, which intends to provide these services
through local contracts. Asked if the Chinese engineers had any
plans to assist in the transition of O&M, Dong said it was
"unimaginable" for UNAMID to change support contractors at such a
sensitive time.


KHARTOUM 00002058 002 OF 002


9. (SBU) Comment: The on-going delays in deploying the Chinese
engineering unit track with other reports from El Fasher (Ref D).
Lack of progress on the supercamp poses a problem for UNAMID, which
will not be able to absorb additional troops until the camp is
completed. The Chinese Embassy, whose primary concern is the
security of their troops, does not appear particularly perturbed by
the lengthy delays in deployment.

POWERS

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