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Cablegate: Deputy Prime Minister Welcomes Us Assistance to Ogaden

VZCZCXRO7447
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #0054/01 0090514
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 090514Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9058
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE 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 02 ADDIS ABABA 000054

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL ET
SUBJECT: DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER WELCOMES US ASSISTANCE TO OGADEN

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse applauded USG support
and development cooperation with Ethiopia in a very warm and cordial
January 2nd meeting with Ambassador, Acting Director of
USAID/Ethiopia, and political counselor. Addisu welcomed USAID's
Humanitarian Assistance Team (HAT), noting even the Ethiopian
Government's (GoE) lack of balanced information about conditions in
the Ogaden area. Addisu urged the USG to look beyond the current
situation in the Ogaden to focus on longer-term development needs of
the region. The DPM noted that Somali Regional State had developed
a five-year Strategic Plan for Development of the region to include
health, education, water/sanitation, agriculture, soil conservation,
livestock issues, etc. to be piloted in 20 non-conflict-affected
woredas this year. End Summary.

CONDITIONS IN THE OGADEN
------------------------

2. (U) The Ambassador opened the meeting by emphasizing the Embassy
and USG's interest in getting accurate information about conditions
in Ethiopia's Ogaden region to advise the USG and GoE on
interventions necessary to de-escalate tensions and address
humanitarian concerns. The Ambassador noted the arrival of the HAT
in Ethiopia and Acting Mission Director Kevin Rushing noted that the
Team is composed of technical experts from USAID and CDC to focus on
food needs, health needs, water/sanitation, the impacts of recent
developments on livelihoods, and the impacts of locusts in
conflict-affected areas of the Ogaden. OFDA staff member Rick
Quinby highlighted that the Team is impartial and aimed to review
conditions, make recommendations, and share its results with the
GoE. The DPM welcomed the HAT Team and applauded the very strong
U.S. development cooperation with Ethiopia. Addisu acknowledged
that the GoE itself lacks balanced information about conditions in
the Ogaden. While noting that the Somali regional government can
cooperate on assistance, the Ogaden especially, but the country
generally, lacks strong local administration at the woreda and zone
levels and the Ogaden specifically lacks quality infrastructure.

3. (U) While the DPM welcomed the HAT, he noted that unless Ethiopia
and its partners focus on long-term development (as well as
emergency) efforts in Somali region, the region will remain stuck in
a vicious cycle. Today, he argued, insecurity continues to
undermine development and impede food distribution to beneficiaries.
Logistical challenges and price hikes by private traders and
transporters further stymie expeditious food distribution.

4. (SBU) In a concerning turn in the conversation, the DPM noted
that the HAT team would be useful to "countercheck" conditions on
the ground reported by NGOs who "have a vested interest in exposing
the GoE [of neglecting or abusing its own citizens]". The Deputy
Prime Minister said that some NGOs are cooperating with the ONLF,
noting even the Save the Children/UK (SC/UK) has contacts with the
ONLF. Presumably in response to a Save the Children/UK (SC/UK)
health study in Fik zone revealed that there is over 20% global
acute malnutrition, Addisu reported that the GoE sent a team "using
standard indicators" to the zone. The GoE team, he argued, found
that conditions "are not that serious." The GoE is not denying the
existence of malnutrition, he pointed out, but normally prevailing
rates of malnutrition must be considered.

LONGER TERM DEVELOPMENT OF SOMALI REGION
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The DPM noted that the Somali Regional State, in
coordination with the GoE, has developed a five-year Strategic Plan
for the Development of the region. He noted that a pilot of the
Plan, which includes attention to health, education,
water/sanitation, agriculture, soil conservation, and livestock
sectors, will be piloted in 20 non-conflict-affected woredas in the
region. Because the Somali regional authorities have "failed to
appropriately utilize" money allocated to it by the central
government, the DPM argued, Addis Ababa has dispatched a team of
officials from the central government to build local capacity (NFI).
The Ministry of Federal Affairs should be coordinating this effort,
he stated. The Acting USAID Mission Director requested a copy of
the Development Plan, which the DPM promised to provide.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) The DPM's support for the HAT enabled Post to inform the
Press (as well as GoE, military, security, and other audiences) of
the Team's presence in country and the GoE's support for their
activities. Further, Post acknowledges the DPM's argument that

ADDIS ABAB 00000054 002 OF 002


long-term development assistance, in addition to the current
emergency assistance, is critical to the long-term stability of the
Somali region and its conflict-impacted Ogaden areas. Nevertheless,
the DPM's comments of the anti-government vested interests of
non-governmental organizations highlights the challenges that the
donor community faces in implementing both emergency and development
assistance in the area. Post will continue to emphasize the
technical capacity of NGOs to implement assistance programs.
YAMAMOTO

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