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Cablegate: Census in Darfur in Trouble

VZCZCXRO6118
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0384/01 0760519
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160519Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0208
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000384

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E WILLIAMSON, AND AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KEDEM PREF SU
SUBJECT: CENSUS IN DARFUR IN TROUBLE

REFS: A. KHARTOUM 372

B. KHARTOUM 172
C. KHARTOUM 155
D. KHARTOUM 114

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Central Bureau of Statistics office in North
Darfur cited many obstacles to carrying out the census. Aside from
security, transportation, communication, and logistical concerns,
the CBS hasn't received confirmation from the local community,
especially the native administration and the very skeptical IDP
population, that they will participate. The CBS continues to lack a
solid plan for the enumeration of displaced populations and seems
uncannily nervous about conducting a census in Darfur next month.
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On 11 March, poloff met with the Director of the Central
Bureau of Statistics (CBS) for North Darfur, her staff, and a UNFPA
representative. After making introductions, the Director
immediately discussed the constraints the CBS faces in carrying out
the census in the region and gave a brief update of the status of
the census in North Darfur.

--------------------------------------------- ---
CBS FINALLY ADMITS TO CENSUS PROBLEMS IN DARFUR
--------------------------------------------- ---
3. (SBU) The Director listed several issues CBS North Darfur is
facing prior to next month's census. First, she said, the CBS needs
help from the UN and NGOs in order to gain access to IDP camps and
other areas to conduct enumeration (note: this is a strange request
because it is her own government, through NISS and HAC, that control
access to many IDP camps). Second, the enumerators in the field
lack communication devices (such as satellite phones) which are
necessary for communicating with the CBS North Darfur office from
remote areas during the two-week enumeration period. Third, the
enumerators lack transportation to enumerate within their
localities. The director said that they need 100 UN vehicles to
enter the IDP camps and 30 vehicles for enumerators across the
region. She also mentioned that the enumerators will need
helicopter support to some localities. Fourth, CBS Khartoum has not
yet solidified a plan for distributing materials (i.e. census
questionnaires, writing materials, etc.) to the states. The UNFPA
rep said that questionnaires need to be distributed to the
localities at least 3 days in advance of the census. The CBS has
requested UN transportation support for the materials, but has not
yet submitted a formal proposal to the UN. Fifth, the CBS does not
have a plan for providing enumerators with security support.

4. (SBU) When poloff asked the CBS team whether the census would go
forward as planned in mid-April even though there are major
constraints to conducting the census in Darfur, the Director said
that the CBS is only a "technical institution" and does what it is
"instructed to do" by the GoS in Khartoum. Refusing to give a
personal opinion, the Director said that questions about the
security concerns of conducting the census in Darfur should be
answered by the GoS. Although the CBS Head office in Khartoum has a
security committee to deal with potential security problems related
to the census around the country, the El Fasher office does not have
its own security plan or committee.

5. (SBU) The local CBS director stated that the CBS has met with
sheikhs and umdas in IDP camps in order to inform them about the
census. She said that she is "90 percent sure" that they (and the
communities that they lead, especially inside the camps) will accept
the census. As for a plan of enumeration in the camps, she said
that CBS is going to suggest that sheikhs and umdas choose people in
the camps to conduct a joint enumeration with CBS enumerators.
[Note: In a separate meeting poloff had with well-respected umdas
from Abu Shouk Camp on 13 March (septel) they expressed strong
concern about the census in Darfur and said that neither they, nor
their communities, will participate. End note.]

--------------------------------------------- --
STATUS ON DARFUR - MAPPING, ADVOCACY, AND MORE
--------------------------------------------- --
6. (U) Touting familiar numbers, the Director claimed that 80
percent of Dafur's land has been mapped. She said there are some
areas the GoS cannot not map due to security constraints, and there
are other areas that are completely empty because people have fled.

7. (U) On March 9, the Deputy Wali of North Darfur formally kicked
off census activities in the state. Soon after, the CBS began its
advocacy campaign in North Darfur. The local CBS media and
information committee has approached local radio and TV stations in
order to launch the census media campaign in North Darfur. Radio
messages about the census currently being broadcasted only reach 30
percent of the state. The local CBS office has asked a radio station
out of Khartoum to broadcast the census message to achieve 100

KHARTOUM 00000384 002 OF 002


percent coverage across North Darfur. The census messages are being
broadcasted in Arabic as well as local dialects. On 17 February, the
CBS began training enumerators in Khartoum. On 9 March, local CBS
offices began training enumerators in the North Darfur localities.

---------------------------------
STATUS OF CENSUS IN WEST DARFUR
---------------------------------
8. (SBU) On 11 March, poloffs spoke with UNAMID Civil Affairs in El
Geneina, West Darfur. UNAMID recently conducted a census "opinion
survey," covering a range of groups including IDPs, political
parties, tribal leaders, Arabs, Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)
signatory representatives, and civil society organizations. Survey
results indicated that every group opposed conducting a census in
Darfur. The acting West Darfur UNAMID Head of Office remarked that
even the head of the State Legislative Council, the Sultan of the
Massaleit, is opposed to the census, noting that because of the
concentration of IDPs, other displaced civilians and population
transfers (particularly the phenomenon of Chadian Arabs settling
in/migrating into Sudan, especially around Wadi Salih), a census
would be distorted, resulting in potential economic and political
imbalances.

9. (SBU) According to UNAMID Civil Affairs, neither the West Darfur
CBS office, nor the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in West Darfur have
undertaken census advocacy in the region. The CBS cannot safely
access IDP camps in West Darfur (as is the case in North Darfur) and
asked Civil Affairs to work as their proxy in the camps, though the
UN has so far declined. The West Darfur UNAMID Head of Office noted
the fundamental realities on the ground in West Darfur: no planning
has been done, sufficient resources are not present and, most
importantly, the population at large rejects the proposition of a
census. She anticipated that should the census proceed, it would
likely lead to incidents of violence. She also said she is prepared
to tell her staff to avoid IDP camps and other potential hot-spots
during any census-taking activities.

10. COMMENT: The North Darfur CBS, which recently moved into its
"new" office space, is in a dilapidated building on the outskirts of
town and only has four computers - all of which were switched off
and covered in plastic. The fact that there was no activity in the
office just one month prior to the census is cause for deep concern
and a sure sign that "census crisis" is about to hit Darfur. The
Director's immediate launch into constraints of carrying out the
census in the North Darfur region leads us to believe that the
situation for the census on the ground in Darfur is not nearly as
under control as the CBS head office in Khartoum recently proclaimed
(ref B). Furthermore, UNAMID Civil Affairs was not reluctant to
explain the dire situation that the CBS West Darfur office faces in
getting camp access and being properly equipped for next month's
exercise. The long list of CBS constraints, as well as the
population's negative feelings about the census - not to mention the
fact that the CBS might not even get access to large parts of the
Darfuri population - will likely cause the census either to be
postponed in Darfur, or to result in inaccurate numbers that could
cause a strong reaction among the population. Regardless of what
numbers are produced, they will be rejected by the Darfuri
population, especially without adequate external/professional
monitors. Strangely enough, this is a paradoxical situation where
regime hardliners in Khartoum and suspicious local populations,
especially IDPs, both don't want the census in Darfur to occur,
albeit for different reasons.

FERNANDEZ

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