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Cablegate: Tawila Incident As Unamid Test Case in Protection Of

VZCZCXRO6085
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0749/01 1371111
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161111Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0834
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0221
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000749

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, SE WILLIAMSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU SU

SUBJECT: TAWILA INCIDENT AS UNAMID TEST CASE IN PROTECTION OF
CIVILIANS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Violence in Tawila, North Darfur on May 12,
threatens to create a humanitarian crisis if left unchecked and
unaddressed by the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur
(UNAMID). An interagency UNAMID team plans to travel to the region
on May 15 to do an assessment and to map out the way forward on
arguably the most fundamental yet currently the most murky of
UNAMID's mandated responsibilities - protection of civilians. END
SUMMARY.

VIOLENCE IN SENSITIVE DARFUR LOCATION
-------------------------------------
2. (SBU) At 0800 on May 12 in the central market in Tawila
(approximately 60km north of El Fasher in North Darfur), a
Government of Sudan (GoS) paramilitary officer (one Abbas Zacaria)
was shot in the head and killed by two Central Reserve Police
members [NOTE: UNAMID J3 reported on May 13 that the perpetrators
were Sudan Liberation Army/Abdelwahid (SLA/AW) members who were put
up to the task by SLA/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) members. Tawila is home
to several SLA factions, in addition to Arab militias and other
assorted bad guys. Tawila is also rife with tensions between the
ethnic Zaghawa and Fur tribes. The UNAMID Humanitarian Liaison
Officer reported that the GoS officer had been beaten to death, vice
shot. END NOTE].

3. (SBU) Following the killing, at approximately 1100, GoS
paramilitary officers retaliated by shooting into the air in the
Tawila market and by entering Tawila IDP camps, where they were
reported as looting and setting fire to shelters; UNAMID had photos
taken at 1400 showing burnt structures in the camp. This action
caused at least 500 IDPs to flee their homes, seeking refuge in and
around the UNAMID Tawila Company Headquarters [NOTE: In the past,
residents of Tawila have traditionally sought refuge right outside
the AMIS military camp (now the UNAMID Tawila company). The
humanitarian community deemed that area unsafe, and AMIS had
objected to service provisions to these IDPs in order to avoid
settling IDPs immediately outside the base. A minimum of services
were nonetheless provided, but the location is not intended to be a
long-term camp. END NOTE]. On May 15 UNAMID Tawila Company
Commander reported that the number of IDPs at the company location
had increased "by the thousands." UNAMID also reported rumors of
SLA/MM coercion to push additional IDPs into the Tawila company
location.

TENSIONS REMAIN HIGH
--------------------
4. (SBU) As of May 15, tensions remained high between GoS and SLA
forces in Tawila. UNAMID reported that since the GoS considered
SLA/MM to be behind the attack, it told UNAMID it would pull out of
Tawila only after taking over SLA/MM positions and offices in the
area, which it alleged to have done on May 14, forcing SLA/MM to
retreat to the hills outside Tawila, where that group was said to be
planning reprisal attacks. A convoy of at least 80 GoS military
vehicles was reportedly moving outside Tawila toward Jebel Eisa (an
SLA/AW stronghold) at 1700 on May 14. According to SLA/MM reps, the
Wali of North Darfur and his North Darfur security committee had
traveled to Malha, North Darfur, on May 13, to convene a meeting
with the local officials before this convoy arrived. SLA/MM reps
predicted targeting of areas in Jebel Eisa, Hara, Hilif, Dardiefa,
Ein Bissaro and Khattan.

5. (SBU) IDPs from Tawila have refused to return to their camp for
lack of security. UNAMID Humanitarian Liaison Officer convened a
meeting on the morning of May 14 including UNAMID military, police
and human rights representatives, as well as reps from OCHA ahead of
a planned mission to Tawila on May 15 [NOTE: This mission had
originally been scheduled for May 14, but due to the GoS decision to
ground UN flights from El Fasher, it had to be re-scheduled. END
NOTE].

TAWILA AS TEST CASE
-------------------
6. (SBU) The Humanitarian Liaison Officer was concerned by the lack
of understanding on the part of UNAMID in Tawila on how to deal with
the IDP situation that was, in his estimation, fast threatening to
become a humanitarian crisis with regard to protection of civilians
and assurance of safety and security for IDPs. "These IDPs don't
need assistance," he asserted. "They need protection," and stressed
that protection of civilians was a fundamental part of UNAMID's
mandate. The Liaison Officer, with the help of the UNAMID Military
Chief of Staff, had drafted a paper on protection of civilians that
was approved as a guideline for the Mission and that would serve as
the basis for the May 15 assessment. He noted that the assessment
team would include not only military, police, humanitarian and human
rights components, but Civil Affairs and Political Affairs as well.

KHARTOUM 00000749 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) The Humanitarian Liaison was firm that UNAMID must address
this protection situation head-on, as Tawila represented not only
the original epicenter of the Darfur crisis (Tawila, with its
strategic location, was the site of some of the deadliest battles in
the Darfur conflict), but also a "flashpoint," given its proximity
to El Fasher and its current status as a case study for UNAMID's
ability to respond to protection concerns.

8. (SBU) The Humanitarian Liaison was concerned that troops on the
ground did not seem to exhibit the training or will to deal with
this type of issue, and he was equally worried that the Deputy Force
Commander himself considered UNAMID assets to be insufficient to
deal with this type of problem. Nevertheless, the mission is
expected to proceed on May 15 as a way of establishing standard
operating procedures for UNAMID's response capacity and verification
mechanisms.

COMMENT
-------
9. (SBU) Despite the tendency to wince at the idea that UNAMID might
not be up to the fundamental task of protecting civilians at risk,
there is a slight silver lining. While thu Deputy DOrce CgmmanderQ
may"Not `e fogucinc on`th%s p9xes v Isug3$#Th(veu0cf(UnIQyFnl$QQ
lnl(g(cu~yraQvn`v, g(6YgDy to become the rule
rather than the exception and will likely include those military
types who need reminding on occasion of the root of their mission in
Darfur. This case will be particularly difficult to adjudicate
because it does not fit the clear pattern of "Khartoum regime
preying on innocent civilians". Like much of the violence in Darfur
now, it involves a tangled constellation of rebel groups and
militias allied or opposed to the government - at least on paper -
and competing tribal agendas (such as tension between Fur and
Zaghawa, both "victims" of much earlier Darfur violence) stoked or
manipulated by the regime. END COMMENT.

FERNANDEZ

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