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Cablegate: Southern Sudan Humanitarian Update - Northern Bahr El

VZCZCXRO7555
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0877/01 1641309
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121309Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1018
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0069
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0235
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0076
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0237

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000877

AIDAC
SIPDIS

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/EA, 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: SOUTHERN SUDAN HUMANITARIAN UPDATE - NORTHERN BAHR EL
GHAZAL STATE

KHARTOUM 00000877 001.2 OF 003


1. Summary: From May 19 to 23, a USAID team, including officers
from the Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) and Office of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), reviewed the humanitarian
situation in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State (NBEG). The team looked
at the problem of malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as the
overall situation of returnees in the state. In terms of food
security, the team found that although NBEG had lower than normal
agricultural production in 2007 and the grain trade from the North
was stopped for several months due to border insecurity, these food
security stresses have not resulted in a crisis to date. The main
reasons for this situation relate to the affected population's
ability to resort to traditional coping mechanisms to supplement
food intake, including fishing, foraging for wild foods, and milk
consumption, as well as aid agencies' varied food security and
nutrition activities. According to the U.N. Mission in Sudan's
Return, Reintegration, and Recovery report, NBEG has received
approximately 417,800 returning internally displaced persons (IDPs)
and refugees since 2004 -- more than any other state in Southern
Sudan. The returnees' arrival and reintegration into home
communities has gone relatively smoothly, without major problems.
End Summary.

Returns
-------

2. Out of the ten states in Southern Sudan, NBEG has received the
highest number of returnees. According to the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), 70,000 people returned to NBEG in
2007. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Nyamlel, Aweil West
County told the USAID team that an estimated 75 percent of the
returnees settled in Aweil West and North Counties. Adeptly
managing the recovery and reintegration process of this large cohort
of returnees is a daunting task for humanitarian organizations and
local authorities and will require focused attention and resources
for several more years.

3. To date, the 2008 returns season has seen fewer returns than the
previous two years, with only 7,246 organized returnees and 8,000 to
10,000 spontaneous returnees verified as of May 2008. Returns
agencies that met with the USAID team cited insecurity along the
North-South border areas, particularly in the Abyei area, as the
major reason that fewer returnees arrived in NBEG this season.
Specifically, the closure of the Meriam-Aweil road due to insecurity
from December 2007 to April 2008 blocked a major return route to the
state. (Note: In a meeting with a local official, the road closure
was blamed on northern attempts to prevent the return of southerners
in time for the April census. End Note.) In addition, aid agencies
believe that the persistent border insecurity reduced the number of
Dinka IDPs in South Darfur returning spontaneously from the Ed Daein
area.

4. Return organizations noted difficulties with ongoing
state-sponsored returns from Khartoum and Omdurman, especially the
lack of prior notice of arrival of truck convoys, which slows the
assistance, such as food and household items, provided by agencies.
Also, some returnees do not have a clear idea of the lack of
services and infrastructure in rural destinations. USAID raised
these points in a meeting with the Deputy Governor who agreed to
give advance notice to U.N. agencies and NGOs on the state-organized
convoys. USAID also encouraged U.N. agencies and NGOs to actively
seek cooperation from the local authorities on this issue.

Recent Displacement from Border Areas
-------------------------------------

5. Another layer of complexity to the population movement dynamics
in the state is the renewed internal displacement of populations.
According to NGOs, the border demarcation issue is affecting the
area, specifically the disputed border between NBEG and South Darfur
and the border between Abyei and NBEG. Aid organizations and local
authorities are dealing with recovery and reintegration of returnees

KHARTOUM 00000877 002.2 OF 003


on one hand, and on the other with the relief needs of the newly
displaced. In December 2007, insecurity displaced an estimated
12,000 people from areas close to the South Darfur-NBEG and the
Abyei-NBEG borders.

6. The current Abyei crisis has brought a new wave of IDPs to NBEG.
As of May 27, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) reported that nearly 1,200 IDPs had arrived in Mabil
and Malualkon towns in Aweil East County from Abyei. On May 22, the
USAID team visited the IDP site at Mabil, met humanitarian agencies
and local authorities, and interviewed several IDP families. The
U.N. and NGO team found that some of the IDPs who fled fighting in
Abyei are also returnees, who were slowly making their way to areas
of origin in NBEG and had stopped in Abyei. In addition, some of
the Abyei IDPs who initially fled into NBEG are ethnic Twic Dinka
and are expected to travel onwards to Twic County, Warrab State, in
order to reside with relatives.

7. The USAID team found that local authorities and return agencies
in NBEG have responded quickly and effectively to the newly
displaced from Abyei. Non-food items (NFIs) and food assistance was
provided within days of the Abyei IDPs' arrival. Verification of
the newly displaced is fast and well managed, and coordination is
strong. Of particular interest to the USAID team was the
effectiveness of local authorities in tracking and monitoring the
newly displaced, as well as the ongoing returns. In the previous
two years of heavy returns, it was impossible to know how many
people had actually returned. Agencies reported numbers and
locations of IDPs that received assistance to return, but estimate
that 90 percent of the returnees travel on their own and are were
not well tracked.

8. This year, USAID/OFDA funded returnee enumerators in every payam
(district) in Southern Sudan, as part of a grant to IOM. The payam
enumerators, who work for the Southern Sudan Relief and
Rehabilitation Commission, were given bicycles and cash incentives.
County coordinators were given motorbikes and satellite phones. The
information is fed up through state offices to Juba and Khartoum.
This year for the first time, a fuller picture is emerging of the
total number of returnees and villages of return, which facilitates
planning and provision of assistance by NGOs and U.N. agencies in
the more remote, rural areas.

Malnutrition
------------

9. Malnutrition rates are chronically high in NBEG due to a variety
of cultural and environmental factors, particularly during the rainy
season, which corresponds with the hunger gap, starting from May
until the main sorghum harvest in September-October. However,
relief organizations now fear t

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