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Cablegate: Determined Unhcr Engages Exigent Gnu

VZCZCXRO9720
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0648/01 1191320
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281320Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0668
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0062
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0183
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0066
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0230

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000648

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, PRM, AF SE WILLIAMSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SP, USAID/W DCHA SUDAN
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND BPITTMAN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
NEW YORK FOR FSHANKS
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: DETERMINED UNHCR ENGAGES EXIGENT GNU

REFS: (A) 08 KHARTOUM 505

(B) 07 KHARTOUM 1669
(C) 07 KHARTOUM 1602
(D) 07 KHARTOUM 897
(E) 07 KHARTOUM 798
(F) 07 KHARTOUM 767

KHARTOUM 00000648 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) Summary: Recent meetings between USAID Office of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) officials and USAID/OFDA partner
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials in Khartoum
and Nyala reveal that the Government of National Unity (GNU) has
methodically challenged UNHCR in its efforts to lead camp management
and protection activities throughout Darfur. Despite these
challenges, UNHCR remains determined to both fulfill its mandate in
all three Darfur states and compel the GNU to view UNHCR as a
partner. Our ongoing bilateral discussions with the GOS as part of
an ongoing dialogue must help solve this issue. End Summary.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

2. (U) In a series of discussions with USAID/OFDA officials, the
UNHCR Country Representative (CR), Deputy Country Representative,
Senior Darfur Manager (SDM), and Acting Officer in Charge-Nyala
(OIC) have made considerable efforts to clarify and provide details
about UNHCR's work to assume responsibility for camp coordination
and camp management (CCCM) and protection activities in North and
South Darfur.

3. (U) UNHCR has been leading CCCM and protection in West Darfur
since October 1, 2007. Early on, UNHCR secured participation of the
Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) in West Darfur sector coordination
meetings in an attempt to keep the government fully engaged and
informed on UNHCR activities. When GNU HAC in Khartoum raised
questions about UNHCR's work in West Darfur, UNHCR responded with
extensive work behind the scenes, according to the Deputy CR.
Eventually, GNU HAC officials and UNHCR conducted a joint assessment
of UNHCR activities in West Darfur, and the assessment team issued a
report in December 2007.

4. (U) In a March 5, 2008, two-page letter to the GNU HAC
Commissioner in Khartoum, the UNHCR Country Representative outlined
UNHCR's work to scale up programs in Darfur in accordance with its
mandate from UN leadership in Sudan. The intended message was to
update the GNU HAC rather than request permission. Consistent with
UNHCR's approach to demonstrate transparency and collaboration, the
Country Representative cited various examples of consensus that
UNHCR and the GNU have reached with regard to UNHCR's role. UNHCR
did so in such a manner as to help substantiate and validate UNHCR's
future plans as logical next steps, for example, including
information about the Joint Assessment in West Darfur and agreements
between UN leadership and the GNU HAC. The letter is deliberately
not detailed, because highly contentious issues, such as the
definition of protection and the scope of camp coordination, remain
unresolved, according to the Deputy CR.

------------------
THE UNHCR APPROACH
------------------

5. (U) UNHCR is focused on establishing a good partnership with the
GNU. According to the Deputy CR, if the GNU has strong objections
to UNHCR assuming a lead role in CCCM and protection, the GNU could
make operations very difficult for UNHCR. UNHCR officials
frequently remark that UNHCR wants the GNU to view UNHCR as
"supporting the government's responsibility to protect its
citizens." UNHCR presents its work as within the framework of UN
coordination overall; further, it is within that framework that
former UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General
(DSRSG) Manuel da Silva asked UNHCR in December 2006 to assume a

KHARTOUM 00000648 002.2 OF 003


lead role in CCCM and protection throughout Darfur.

6. (U) According to UNHCR officials, local/repeat local government
authorities have been exceptionally supportive of UNHCR's role in
all three Darfur states. For example, in North Darfur, UNHCR met
with Commissioners from six of the seven localities and received
strong expressions of support. In Nyala, the HAC Commissioner told
UNHCR that UNHCR should "consider this your own country," according
to the Nyala Officer in Charge. In West Darfur, at the invitation
of UNHCR, the HAC is a full and enthusiastic participant in sector
coordination meetings. Comment: UNHCR appears to be approaching
the Sudanese government as it approaches any government in the
country where UNHCR is providing assistance, namely as a partner.
In Darfur, UNHCR is especially conscious of the GNU's sensitivity to
any person or institution challenging government sovereignty. For
example, the March 5 letter discussed UNHCR's considerable global
expertise in protection and coordination, emphasizing that UNHCR not
only applies this expertise to its work in Darfur, but also to
supporting the government's responsibility to protect its citizens.
The letter mentioned that one way that UNHCR supports government
responsibility is to offer training. End comment.

------------
NORTH DARFUR
------------

7. (U) In El Fasher, North Darfur, UNHCR secured facilities in
November 2007 and opened the office in February 2008. Recently,
local HAC and ministry officials invited UNHCR to attend all sector
meetings, and UNHCR views the invitation as a big step forward in
practical, as well as strategic, terms because the GNU invited UNHCR
rather than UNHCR requesting an invitation of the GNU. UNHCR plans
to assume responsibility from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) for
protection coordination meetings. To date, USAID staff remain
uncertain whether or not similar coordination meetings take place
for CCCM. UNHCR is poised to open an office in Kutum, and the SDM
reported that he has instructed staff to open the office "even if
only six refugees show up." UNHCR is considering posting a senior
UNHCR official in Darfur, probably in El Fasher.

------------
SOUTH DARFUR
------------

8. (U) On March 17 in Nyala, South Darfur, the UNHCR Deputy CR,
SCM, and the Acting OIC had very positive meetings with the Wali (or
governor), the Wali's Director General of International
Organizations, the HAC/Nyala Secretary General, who is the
second-in-command and formerly worked for a non-governmental
organization (NGO), and the newly-appointed State Minister, who is
the former South Darfur Minister of Health and has a good
reputation. According to UNHCR officials, the local officials
expressed interest in UNHCR beginning to increase and reinforce its
presence in Nyala as soon as possible. Again, UNHCR views this as
the desired strategic position because the GNU is inviting UNHCR
rather than UNHCR having to ask permission. As of early April, the
Acting OIC is now based in Nyala, and UNHCR is deploying two
additional international staff from its West Darfur office and three
UN Volunteers. According to the Acting OIC, UNHCR has a target date
of July 1, 2008, to assume full responsibility for CCCM and
protection in South Darfur. In addition, UNHCR plans to open an
office in Kass.

----------------------
OBSTACLES AND PROBLEMS
----------------------

9. (SBU) The central government in Khartoum, namely the GNU HAC
Commissioner (who is himself from South Darfur), is the main
impediment for UNHCR. The GNU HAC has sent explicit and implicit
messages of dissent to UN leadership and UNHCR. The aforementioned

KHARTOUM 00000648 003.2 OF 003


UNHCR and HAC joint assessment of UNHCR's activities in West Darfur
was submitted to the GNU HAC commissioner in December 2007, but the
GNU HAC Commissioner has not yet commented on the December report,
either negatively or positively. In addition, while the GNU HAC
required this assessment before "allowing" UNHCR to "expand" in
North and South Darfur, the terminology is elusive because confusion
remains over the GNU HAC's position about UNHCR in North and South
Darfur, and the authorization to work with UNHCR that various local
GNU officials do or do not need from the HAC in Khartoum.

10. (SBU) Since receiving UNHCR's March 5 letter, the GNU HAC
Commissioner has cancelled at least three scheduled meetings with
the Country Representative. He has also dodged CDA Fernandez's
efforts to meet on this and related issues for weeks. On March 30,
the Commissioner cancelled the meeting and sent the Deputy
Commissioner to advise UNHCR that the Commissioner did not like
UNHCR's plan to expand in Darfur.

11. (SBU) On April 2, the current DSRSG met with the GNU HAC
Commissioner to discuss a number of Darfur issues, including, among
other things, food, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) incident (ref
tel A), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) rural
assessment, and the UNHCR expansion. The Commissioner told the
DSRSG that he had concerns regarding UNHCR leading on CCCM and
protection in all three Darfur states. Although the DSRSG pressed
the Commissioner to explain, the Commissioner stated that he was
conducting bilateral discussions with UNHCR's CR, and that the
Commissioner preferred to address the matter with the CR rather than
with the DSRSG. The Commissioner also stated that he desired to
proceed with a roundtable on protection to clarify for all parties
what is meant by the term. As of April 20, the Commissioner has not
yet met with the CR.

--------
COMMENTS
--------

12. (SBU) UNHCR officials are highly motivated, energetic, and
committed to their work in Darfur, as well as interested and able to
think strategically. UNHCR's enthusiasm and commitment are combined
with solid knowledge of and experience in Darfur. UNHCR is charged
with addressing two of the most volatile humanitarian issues in
Darfur - protection and CCCM. The failure of the GNU to provide
protection to its citizens is arguably the reason why the
international community intervened in 2004 and why Darfur remains
the world's largest humanitarian crisis five years later. CCCM is
primarily about internally displaced person (IDP) camps, which the
GNU wants to disband. UNHCR appears to be taking the right approach
to achieve sustainable and successful intervention. USAID/OFDA
recommends continued support to UNHCR and close monitoring of UNHCR
progress while remaining alert to opportunities where the USG could
engage on UNHCR's behalf.

13. (SBU) According to the Deputy CR, UNHCR's work in Darfur is
"less than ideal." UNHCR is most comfortable in an operational role
and has recently released an appeal asking for a significantly
larger budget in order to be more operational. US Embassy will
continue to push the GNU to allow UNHCR to meet its mandated role in
Darfur. Most recently, US Special Envoy Williamson raised USG's
concerns over the GNU interfering with UNCHR's engagement in Darfur,
asking the GNU to expeditiously authorize UNHCR to expand its
operations into North and South Darfur in order to meet the growing
protection and CCCM needs. The GOS agreed to this during the
discussions in Rome, so continued engagement with the Sudanese
should help solve this issue once and for all.

FERNANDEZ

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