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Cablegate: Unamid Public Information Strategy in Disarray, According

VZCZCXRO8024
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0642 1161139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251139Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0659
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000642

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO AU UN SU CD
SUBJECT: UNAMID PUBLIC INFORMATION STRATEGY IN DISARRAY, ACCORDING
TO DFID CONTRACTOR

REF: A. Khartoum 518

B. Khartoum 502

1. (SBU) Summary: CDA Fernandez met with representatives from Albany
Associates, a communications firm that has been hired by DFID to
support UNAMID. Albany, which has an interest in getting its
contract extended, warned that UNAMID is in disarray and has no
communications strategy. The Albany reps said they prepared a radio
strategy for UNAMID, but claimed the internal bureaucracy may keep
it from getting off the ground. Albany is clearly hoping for
intervention from donors and major UN contributors on its behalf but
their criticism rings true. End summary.

2. (SBU) Simon Haselock and Rida Ettarasani from Albany Associates
met with Charge d'Affaires Fernandez April 18 to discuss UNAMID's
public information strategy in Darfur. Haselock described UNAMID's
public information effort as "chaos," the office falling prey to an
internal turf war among its 17 full-time staff since the departure
of its most recent director in March. UNAMID has named an Algerian
to be Chief Public Information Officer, but expectations are low.
According to Haselock, the new appointee was selected as a result of
quirks in the UN's hiring process, not because he was the most
competent or qualified, "in fact, no other UN mission wanted him".
Haselock pointed out that UNAMID has organized few press
conferences, does not have any information programs in place, and
has received no press coverage of important UNAMID events. He
predicted that UNAMID's Public Information Department (PID) will be
inoperational for the near future.

3. (SBU) Haselock and Ettarasani consider Albany's most recent radio
proposal to be the best chance for solidifying support for UNAMID in
Darfur. Designed in conjunction with David Smith, formerly of Radio
Okapi (MONUC's radio station in Congo), Albany plans a threefold
approach. First and most immediately, a UNAMID internal forces radio
station will provide information to UNAMID troops, create a
collective consciousness of mission, and improve morale.
Additionally, an internal forces station will be inexpensive to
operate, and will not be subject to any government interference.
Second, a UN radio targeting Darfuris which may take longer to get
off the ground, but will provide news and current affairs
programming to supplement UNAMID and UN civil society efforts in
Darfur. Third, an independent FM radio station, Afia radio, will
broadcast with programming designed by the NGO Afiya Sudan, and be
much quicker and cheaper than UN radio. Haselock does not believe
that Afiya radio will prove controversial to GoS because it will
open a cultural link from Darfur to Khartoum. Haselock anticipates
that the proposals will be completed within the next two weeks.

4. (SBU) Despite its efforts, Albany faces difficultly planning past
July of this year, when its contract with DFID expires. Haselock was
skeptical that the UN will sign a contract with Albany.
Unfortunately, Albany's best products may languish come summer, most
notably Albany's biweekly Afia newspaper which he said has a
distribution of 200,000 copies. This year's cultural festivals -
including the April 25 equestrian festival, and a Darfur festival
planned for early summer - will take place as scheduled, but without
guaranteed funding it may not be replicated and improved upon in the
future. Albany has prepared a contingency plan in case it does not
receive a UN contract: it has submitted proposals to the Canadians
and Dutch for infusions of funding into the Afia Darfur Newspaper
and Afia Sudan NGO, beginning in May of this year and lasting until
March 2009.

5. (SBU) Comment: An effective communications strategy is a key part
to UNAMID maintaining credibility, something AMIS was unable to do.
Albany seems to have laid out a good strategy and there is no doubt
that UNAMID can use the assistance Albany offers. The US and other
donors can weigh in on Albany's behalf, but it is contingent upon
Albany to sell its product and services to UNAMID - which may
ultimately decide to manage all programs in-house. In this case the
proposals Albany has submitted to the Dutch and Canadians may be
Albany's best chance of remaining active in Darfur. Haselock's
comments are one more example of UNAMID's disarray, which seems to
exist in both the civilian and military sides of the operation.

FERNANDEZ

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