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Cablegate: Air Operations Under Unamid Suffer Transition Pains

VZCZCXRO4610
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0012 0041059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041059Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9657
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000012

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: AIR OPERATIONS UNDER UNAMID SUFFER TRANSITION PAINS

REF: KHARTOUM 1839

1. (SBU) Summary: The UN has agreed to allow Canadian-financed
helicopter contractor Skylink to provide air support to UNAMID until
March 31, 2008. However, in a change from AMIS operations, the UN
prohibits UN personnel to use Skylink aircraft resulting in large
numbers of UN personnel waiting for transportation. End summary.

2. (SBU) Canadian political officer Tara Lawrence told poloff on
January 3 that the UN approved on January 2 the use of
Canadian-financed contractor Skylink until March 31, 2008. The
Canadians, who provided funding for AMIS air transport through the
contractor Skylink, offered in fall 2007 to continue funding air
transport for UNAMID (reftel). Lawrence said that when Troop
Contributing Countries (TCC) do finally provide helicopters, the UN
and Canada have agreed to proportionally reduce the use of
Canadian-financed helicopters. For the time being, UNAMID has use of
Skylink's 25 MI-8 helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft. The UN
has eight helicopters but not all are available for flight
operations given lack of Sudanese certification for the aircraft.

3. (SBU) According to an internal Skylink communication provided to
poloff, there is considerable command and control confusion as
UNAMID begins operations. Skylink said that under UN command there
are delays in obtaining essential documents causing delays and
inefficiencies. In addition, the UN is unable to obtain required
flight clearances into JEM-controlled areas resulting in the failure
to resupply UNAMID camps at Tine, Genaina, Umm Barro, Sari Fumra and
Kulbus.

4. (SBU) Skylink also revealed that despite the decision to use the
Canadian-funded service, whereby AMIS personnel were transported by
Skylink, with the transition, UN personnel are prohibited from
flying on Skylink aircraft. As a result, "several hundred" UN
troops and personnel are still waiting to be transported to various
locations. Skylink said the Chief of Integrated Support Services
(CISS) is attempting to resolve the issue but that there is
"considerable acrimony at UNAMID HQ given the rather abrupt stop to
current operations."

5. (SBU) Comment: The UN is apparently making policy decisions
without first examining the likely effect on its ability to deploy
personnel and maintain its logistical supply chain. While the lack
of key personnel, perhaps made worse by a holiday exodus, may not
have helped the situation, in fairness, DPKO expected to have
command of its own TCC helicopters by now. We expect delays of this
kind as UNAMID struggles in an extremely complex environment.

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