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Cablegate: Unamid - a View From Rural North Darfur

VZCZCXRO3446
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0438 0850802
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250802Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0303
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000438

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: UNAMID - A VIEW FROM RURAL NORTH DARFUR


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A March 24 visit by emboffs to UNAMID camps in
Sector North revealed that UNAMID troops can make a difference on
the ground as local populations trust UNAMID with their security
concerns. Nonetheless, discussions with UNAMID contacts in Um
Kadada and Shangil Tobai also revealed a weak UNAMID public
communications strategy and local perceptions that the Darfur Peace
Agreement is an agreement between only the minority Zaghawa tribe
and the Government of Sudan. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On March 24, emboffs traveled to the distant northern sector
UNAMID base camps of Um Kadada and Shangil Tobai to conduct an
inventory of high-end items (vehicles, generators, armored personnel
carriers, etc.) for rotating Rwandan peacekeeping battalions.
Emboffs will continue through March 30 conducting such inventories
at base camps where Rwandans are located (Note: The results of the
March 24 inventory will be sent via e-mail to interested parties.
At the end of the week-long inventory, septel will follow. End
Note).

"WHEN THREATENED, THE IDPS CAME TO US"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. (SBU) Following the inventory, UNAMID Civilian Police (civpol)
representatives told emboffs that during one of the most recent
conflicts in Shangil Tobai, internally displaced persons (IDP)
immediately ran to the UNAMID camp asking for help. Civpol stated
that a conflict occurred approximately two weeks ago when Sudan
Liberation Army fighters of Minni Minnawi (SLA-Minnawi) detained the
Fur mayor (umdah) of the Shahada IDP Camp. (Note: The area of
Shangil Tobai is controlled by the largely Zaghawa SLA-Minnawi
faction. Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are also present in the area.
End Note). Civpol stated that although the reason for the detention
of the Fur umdah was not clear, it was part of an ongoing, low-level
conflict between the Zaghawa and the Fur. "They [the Fur IDPs]
immediately came and started protesting outside of our gates,"
stated the civpol representative. Civpol added that after
consulting with the Fur leaders, UNAMID civpol and force protection
appraced SLA-Minnawi leaders and began negotiations with them.
According to civpol representatives, SLA-Minnawi released the Fur
Umdah after one day and returned him to the Shahada camp.

4. (U) Civpol and military observers (milobs) from UNAMID stated
that the example above is not an isolated incident, as other IDPs
continue to visit the UNAMID camp reporting crimes, asking for
community interventions, and entrusting UNAMID with their security
concerns. "They are not afraid of us and feel comfortable coming
here. It is a good sign," stated one milob.

5. (U) Local Sudanese employees (mechanics, cooks, cleaners, and
satellite TV technicians) were present in the UNAMID base camps at
both Shangil Tobai and Um Kadada. One civpol representative stated
that the presence of these local Sudanese employees may have helped
UNAMID improve its community relations. One local Sudanese cleaning
woman agreed, telling emboff that she not only appreciates the work,
but that "now there is stability, peace, and a better life in
Shangil Tobai."

ALL IS NOT ROSY
- - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) UNAMID civpols and milobs stated that although many
Darfuris feel comfortable approaching UNAMID troops, many others do
not understand their mission, nor the difference between AMIS and
UNAMID. UNAMID civpols stated that that they are not responsible
for this public education. "As SLA-Minnawi controls this area, they
have to get out and tell the IDPs what we are about," stated one
UNAMID civpol. Another UNAMID Sudanese "language consultant" to
UNAMID also cautioned that many Fur people from this region consider
that UNAMID is intended to enforce the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA),
which they see as an agreement soley between the Zaghawa and the
Government of Sudan. "The Fur do not feel included in this
agreement, and only see the Zaghawa benefiting - this could hurt us
in the long-run" said this representative.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: It is encouraging that IDPs in one camp in
North Darfur trust that UNAMID can solve inter-tribal tensions, feel
comfortable approaching it, and associate UNAMID deployment with
increased security. This is peacekeeping at its best and, in the
case of Shangil Tobai, may have prevented an ethnic conflict between
the Fur and Zaghawa from quickly escalating. This good news is
tempered by other less encouraging reports, such as persistent local
perceptions of the DPA as a narrow and ethnically-based agreement
and these particular troops' attitude towards UNAMID's public
information campaign as someone else's job.

8. (SBU) Septels will follow this week on emboff visits to other
UNAMID bases as part of the Rwandan battalion inventory.

FERNANDEZ

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