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Cablegate: S/E Williamson Meets with Nyala Women and Civil Society

VZCZCXRO1918
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0842/01 1570940
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050940Z JUN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0971
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0233
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000842

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

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

SUBJECT: S/E WILLIAMSON MEETS WITH NYALA WOMEN AND CIVIL SOCIETY
LEADERS


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. In a May 31 meeting, Nyala women and civil society
leaders told U.S. Presidential Special Envoy Richard Williamson that
delays in implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) were
disproportionately impacting women and children. They detailed
training they had undertaken in preparation for future political
negotiations, and stressed the importance of their full
participation in peace and reconciliation activities. The civil
society representatives worried about the impact of the worsening
security environment on the distribution of food and services, and
one representative claimed that the Zaghawa tribe was being unfairly
targeted following the JEM rebel attack on Omdurman. The group was
skeptical of UNAMID's ability to protect civilians, and called for a
more international composition of the peacekeeping force in order to
regain the trust and confidence of the Darfuri people. The Special
Envoy pledged to continue humanitarian relief efforts, and called on
civil society groups, especially women, to take the lead on peace
and reconciliation efforts. He vowed that, in regards to the
conflict in Darfur, "the attention of the United States will not
wander." End Summary.

-----------------------------------
DPA Delays Negatively Impact Women
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) In a May 31 meeting, Special Envoy Williamson met with
leaders of South Darfur women's and civil society organizations.
Women leaders expressed frustration at the lack of political
progress on ending the conflict in Darfur, pointing out that after
many meetings, negotiations and discussions, there were few tangible
results felt on the ground. Delays in implementing the Darfur Peace
Agreement (DPA) disproportionately impacted women and children, who
are the first affected by war but the least empowered to effect
change, they said. The DPA alone would not be sufficient to sustain
peace, the women agreed. Therefore efforts to reach out to the
non-signatories and to bring them back to the negotiating table were
crucial. "These are our brothers and fathers," one representative
stated, "they must be part of the solution."

3. (SBU) One woman's rights advocate noted that, although the
conditions for women in Darfur were deplorable, the real tragedy was
their exclusion from peace negotiations and reconciliation efforts.
"No peace can come without women," she stated flatly. Another
activist noted that Nyala women leaders have received considerable
training, through the support of the non-governmental organization
Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), in order to prepare for future peace
negotiations. "We, as women, are ready, we just wonder what the men
are doing..." another commented.

--------------------------------------------- --
Declining Social Conditions, UNAMID Concerns
--------------------------------------------- --

4. (SBU) In the interim, the women reported, their organizations
were focusing on capacity building and advocacy programs, especially
in the areas of gender based violence and children's and internally
displaced persons (IDPs) issues. They appealed for support for
these initiatives, but noted that without better security, none of
their activities would be effective. The head of a local civil
society network pointed out that the lack of security and UNAMID
protection had limited even the basic services that could be
provided in Darfur. Recent attacks across Darfur had led to
increased displacement, as well as needs, at a time when the World
Food Program (WFP) was reducing its support. UNAMID's inability to
provide adequate security and geographical coverage for humanitarian
convoys risked creating a "humanitarian catastrophe," his colleague
noted.

5. (SBU) A professor from Nyala University claimed that the
worsening local situation for Zaghawa tribe members was also
contributing to an overall decline in social conditions. After the
JEM rebel attack on Omdurman, she claimed, the GoS and its militias
had targeted Zaghawa owned businesses in an economic discrimination
campaign. Business owners were afraid to open their shops due to
harassment and threats, and Zaghawa workers were fired from their
jobs. She claimed that even prices in the market had increased, and
that Zaghawas were now forced to pay more for food and amenities
than ordinary citizens.

6. (SBU) The civil society representatives said that UNAMID was not
capable of protecting civilians. The previous African Union Mission
in Sudan (AMIS) did not have a mandate to protect citizens, one
said, and since most of the soldiers from that mission became
UNAMID, they still do not see themselves as having that mandate. He
noted that an increase in international, not just African, forces
would help to change the Darfuri people's minds, and would increase
confidence in the UNAMID mission.

--------------------------------------------- -
U.S. Committed to Sustainable Peace in Darfur
--------------------------------------------- -

7. (SBU) Special Envoy Williamson noted that it was difficult to
fully appreciate the suffering the people of Darfur had endured. He
assured the group that the US was continuing to provide substantial
humanitarian relief for Darfur, while recognizing that the creation
of a secure, stable, and sustainable environment was crucial to
resolving the crisis on the ground. The Special Envoy said that the
U.S. was also disappointed that the DPA had not achieved peace,
noting this resulted partially from Government of Sudan (GoS)
activities aimed at promoting insecurity, partially from violence
and banditry perpetrated by Arab militias armed by GoS, and
partially from rebel movements seeking their own gain at the expense
of the people of Darfur.

8. (SBU) The Special Envoy acknowledged the difficulties in fully
deploying the UNAMID peacekeeping forces, citing GoS obstructionism,
internal issues within the UN secretariat, and a lack of trained and
equipped African troops. To help rectify this, he noted, the U.S.
had pledged $100 million to train and equip African soldiers.
However, the Special Envoy cautioned, resolution would require a
political settlement for which the parties to the conflict seemed to
have no appetite at this time. He stressed the crucial role to be
played by civil society groups in these efforts, noting that
sustainable peace would only be possible through their active
participation and leadership. He called on the women of Darfur, who
understand the suffering and are willing to take a chance on peace
in order to end it, to lead reconciliation efforts, promising that
"the attention of the United States will not wander."

9. (U) SE Williamson's delegation reviewed this message before
transmission.

POWERS

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