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Cablegate: Unamid Deployment Gets a Lift

VZCZCXRO3065
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0911/01 1711108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191108Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1094
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0241
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000911

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF/SPG, S/CRS, SE WILLIAMSON, NSC FOR
BPITTMAN AND CHUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU CD
SUBJECT: UNAMID DEPLOYMENT GETS A LIFT

REF: KHARTOUM 883

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Just when it seemed like those in charge of UNAMID
deployment were all out for summer break and all meaningful work
would accordingly have to wait until fall, the contingent-owned
equipment for the Chinese engineers in Nyala reached its destination
at long last, allowing for arrival of the main Chinese party by July
1. This is no small feat and comes at a time when things seem more
bleak than ever for the peacekeeping operation: PAE's demobilization
from Darfur, fickle troop contributors, and spiking incidents of
banditry and other crime ahead of the rainy season and in
conjunction with unrest in eastern Chad. The June 18-21 visit of
incoming Assistant-Secretary-General for the Department of Field
Support Susanna Malcorra could also contribute to the slight
"momentum," and a reinvigorated push instigated by UNAMID police to
get convoys moving from El Obeid are other positive steps for the
still quite overwhelmed Mission. END SUMMARY.

CHINESE ENGINEERS EXPECTED JULY 1
---------------------------------
2. (SBU) New Chief of Planning for the United Nations-African Union
Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) COL Noddy Stafford (who replaced COL
Murdo Urquhart) told FieldOff June 17 that the advance party of
Chinese engineers in Nyala finally received their contingent-owned
equipment (CoE) after close to an eight-month delay. Because the
shipment included fasteners necessary for the engineers' work on
accommodations, they are able to begin construction of two
additional buildings, allowing for the arrival of the main party of
the Chinese by July 1, ahead of UNAMID's original deployment
schedule [NOTE: The Planning Chief remarked that it would be a long
haul for the advance elements of the Chinese contingent despite the
"early" arrival of the main party. The advance party's deployment
clock does not begin until the party is complete, leaving them with
another 18 months in Darfur. END NOTE].

3. (SBU) In other CoE updates, the Planning Chief noted that UNAMID
would begin moving 11 containers from Zam Zam to Kulbus in violent
West Darfur on June 18 in preparation for the deployment of the
advance elements of the second Ethiopian battalion, an element that
would consist of some engineers. The CoE in these containers would
be transported by 14 runs of an Mi-26 heavy transport helicopter and
would include 14 vehicles. The Planning Chief, who had accompanied
UNAMID Force Commander Agwai on a June 13 visit to Addis Ababa, said
the Ethiopian MoD was still paranoid about security for its troops
deploying in Sector West and for its assets, and was requesting an
airlift of its four APCs. According to the Force Commander, the
Government of Sudan (GoS) had agreed in principle to allow Ethiopia
to fly its troops directly from Addis Ababa to El Geneina for onward
Sector West deployment.

OTHER ENCOURAGING SIGNALS
-------------------------
4. (SBU) According to the Force Commander, further baby steps were
taken in a June 16 monthly meeting in Khartoum between UNAMID
leadership (including FC Agwai, D/JSR for Operations and Management
Medili, Director of Administration Yonis and Police Commissioner
Fryer) and the GoS (MFA U/S Siddiq and his military/intelligence
team). During this meeting the GoS officially accepted 0700-1900
operating hours at Darfur airports; agreed to accelerate the
issuance of land; committed to working to release CoE; agreed to
assist in convoy movement from Kordofan. GEN Agwai also affirmed
GoS acceptance of the Thai and Nepalese contributions to UNAMID once
the Ethiopian and Egyptian battalions had deployed.

6. (SBU) On convoy movement, the other half of the CoE coin, UNAMID
is encouraged by the successful five-day movement of 20 trucks from
El Obeid to Nyala, a convoy headed by UNAMID Police Commissioner
Fryer. Despite only 101 km of tarmac roads, the water and fuel
escort convoy made it to Nyala without incident and informed
UNAMID's planning for future such convoys, which the Police
Commissioner plans to push on a 72-hour basis. Fryer told FieldOff
the experience convinced him of the indispensability of local
drivers and authorities (GoS police escorted the convoy from El
Obeid to Babanusa, then from Babanusa to El Daein). He said it also
impressed upon him the vulnerability of such convoys, which stretch
almost two kilometers long on vast, deserted "roads" where
hijackings would be very easy to execute. Nonetheless, UNAMID
leadership is determined to make another run, again led by the
enterprising Police Commissioner, this time on the El Obeid-Um
Kadada-El Fasher route during the week of June 22.

REALITY CHECK
-------------
7. (SBU) Not all CoE and deployment news is so encouraging, however.
The Planning Chief described difficulties with moving the CoE for
the first Ethiopian battalion, noting that this CoE (which had

KHARTOUM 00000911 002 OF 002


arrived in country on April 21) was "lost on a conveyor belt
somewhere between Port Sudan and El Obeid" and was not accordingly
expected until at least October. He mentioned that there was
ongoing discussion with the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense with
regard to the deployment of the first Ethiopian infantry battalion:
whether it would go to Muhajeria/Shaeiria or to Tulus/Edd Al Fursan
in South Darfur.

8. (SBU) The Planning Chief pointed out that new battalions were
arriving without the requisite training to operate APCs, noting that
the much used Canadian APCs were particularly unfamiliar to troops
and that they required a two-week training period for both drivers
and gunners. To remedy this, the Chief suggested deploying drivers
early for such training and instructing engineers in theatre to
construct training areas for such instruction to take place so that
troops could get on the ground and trained up from here.

9. (SBU) On the possibility of transferring Chinese and Pakistani
platoons from the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to UNAMID, the
Planning Chief reported that there would be a Chinese recce in the
coming days. He confirmed the Pakistani refusal to transfer a
platoon from UNMIS but noted its offer to provide its own platoon
directly from Pakistan later this year. The Planning Chief noted
that this contribution would end up being too little far too late.
COMMENT
-------
10. (SBU) Despite persistent obstacles and shortcomings to its
deployment, UNAMID is not without some measured progress, and it is
indeed encouraging to see movement on CoE issues in particular,
since this issue is fundamental to the arrival of increased numbers
of troops. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that some
of these "accomplishments," especially the arrival of the Chinese
CoE, were months in the making, largely due to factors that should
never have been allowed to become the obstacles that they did (the
Chinese CoE was delayed as a result of haggling by the UN over
transport costs of $1000 with local contractors). Until UNAMID
learns to better pick its logistical battles, we may have to get
used to such "successes" every eight months or so. Hopefully the
visit of A/SYG Malcorra will continue this forward momentum and keep
the spotlight on the unexciting but essential logistical issues that
threaten to grind UNAMID deployment to a halt.
FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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