Cablegate: Humanitarian Mine Action and Small Arms and Light Weapons

DE RUEHDK #0818/01 1931103
R 111103Z JUL 08





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. A joint visit by State Department PM/WRA Program Manager Deborah
Netland, AFRICOM Humanitarian Mine Action Manager Senior Chief
Joseph Severino to Dakar, Senegal and (with Dakar demining watcher)
Guinea-Bissau from 15-22 May shed valuable light on the progress in
demining and arms and ordnance destruction and education in the
southern Casamance region of Senegal and in neighboring
Guinea-Bissau. After conferring with Handicap International (HI)
Senegal, State Department PM/WRA Deborah Netland and post concur to
place humanitarian mine action (HMA) funding for FY 08 under review.
Should funds become available, USG funding to continue HI efforts
in the Senegalese Casamance could continue to grow a local popular
constituency that would be a basis for an eventual peace agreement.
In Guinea-Bissau (GB), the USG end-state would be more realistic as
achieving an impact-free status as opposed to completing capacity
building. Unfortunately the GOGB does not have funds to keep
deminers employed, therefore without continued financial support,
capacity developed through DOS and DOD will deteriorate. With a
commitment of no more than $1 million a year to sustain US developed
operational capacity, GB could be completely free of ERW in as
little as 5 years.


2. PM/WRA agreed to assist Senegal to clear mines and UXO
(unexploded ordnance) in the southern Casamance region and to
eliminate small personal stockpiles of small arms/light weapons
(SA/LW). The destruction of currently known stockpiles was
completed in July 2007, and planners anticipated that the Casamance
would be mine-free by the end of FY08, assuming that the region
would be safe enough to demine during this time. This has not
turned out to be true, though. Funding is however uncertain and
PM/WRA will place further Casamance HMA funding under review for FY

3. Post strongly agrees with this review, because the simmering
Casamance conflict that frequently comes to a boil since its
outbreak in 1982 is part of a larger strategic sub-regional setting
that includes frequent street-level discontent with lack of economic
opportunity in northern Senegal, a minority dictatorship in the
Gambia deeply involved for ethnic reasons in the Casamance
rebellion, the failure of the state of Guinea-Bissau, and easy
passage of terrorist suspects from neighboring Mauritania to
Senegal, Gambia, and finally to Guinea-Bissau. Abandoned and buried
munitions can be abused as IED (improvised explosive devices). The
prevalence of cocaine trafficking through Guinea-Bissau could spread
northward to the Casamance because the Senegalese state is weak
there and instead in large parts it is controlled by rebels.
American interests are strongly served in the region by providing a
safe and environment and potential economic growth for local
populations by demining and otherwise clearing hazardous areas so
that peasants can return to cultivating their fields.


4. Accompanied by Dakar demining officer Matt Dever, Netland and
Severino visited former mine/UXO impacted sites to observe the
benefits to local communities. Although the city of Bissau is now
mine impact-free, it still has serious UXO contamination. The U.S.
team visited impacted locations in Bissau and other parts of the
country as well as ordnance disposal sites. Sites visited were:

a. Illonde UXO site
b. Plaque 1, Interramento, and two Paiol de Bra minefield sites
c. Xime, a minefield and UXO site
d. Buruntuma, Mines & UXO
e. Cataba minefield
f. Rossun UXO contamination and ordnance disposal site.

Although the planned DOS end-state was completion of capacity
building in FY08, this visit has determined that this is not a
realistic approach to making Guinea-Bissau safe from all explosive
remnants of war (ERW). It is unrealistic to expect the Government
of Guinea-Bissau to provide the resources to sustain the required
capacity without adequate donor support. With modest but realistic
support to sustain the capacity developed through DOS and DOD
resources, Guinea-Bissau could reasonably become free of ERW within
5 years.

DAKAR 00000818 002 OF 003

5. DoD Training. In 2007, through coordination with the National
Mine Action Coordination Center (CAAMI), USAF training teams
provided extensive and successful training in explosive ordnance
disposal (EOD), battlefield clearance (BAC), first responder field
medics and mine risk education (MRE). This resulted in the
International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) certification of seven
EOD level 3, five EOD level 2 and nine EOD level 1 operators with
the national NGO HUMAID.

a. During a meeting with CAAMI, it was noted that a
significant amount of demining equipment and medical supplies used
during the DoD training has been held in the CAAMI compound since
Dec 2007. The equipment is stored in two (2) DoD provided ISU 90
containers. Although a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by CAAMI
that the equipment would be used to support operational demining in
Guinea-Bissau, no action has yet been taken to distribute this
equipment to the HUMAID and LUTCAM national operators. This
equipment is mandatory for the DoD trained instructors to maintain
their EOD level I, 2 and 3 IMAS certification. Severino will take
follow-on action to resolve the situation in regards to the
appropriate distribution of the DoD equipment.

(SBU) b. Observations of the CAAMI organization during this visit
make it clear that corruption and a lack of commitment in managing
mine action activities hinder rather than support the efforts of
operators to deal with legitimate priorities in the country.

c. Although CAAMI leadership is corrupt, some of the
mid-level staff appear to be sincere in their desire to obtain
training that will improve their job skills. As a result of this
expressed interest, SCPO Severino will explore possible DoD
management training in areas such as operational planning,
finance/budget, information technology (IT) support, etc. Severino
made it clear to the Director of CAAMI that in order for AFRICOM to
consider training support, a formal request from CAAMI that
specifically details what training is required must be submitted
through Embassy Dakar for consideration.

6. In-Country Operations. Two national NGOs HUMAID and LUTCAM and
one international NGO, Cleared Ground, carry out operations in the
country. Regrettably, donor support is limited and HUMAID, who has
successfully conducted the majority of clearance over the years has
run out of funds. LUTCAM operations continue only as a result of
their partnership with Cleared Ground, which has been able to
mobilize some donor funding.

a. $200,000 in FY08 NADR-HD funds allocated for use in
Guinea-Bissau was intended for local purchase of a cab and flatbed
to support movement of the DoD Humanitarian Demining R&D MAXX
mini-excavator. During this visit, however, the USG team found that
Cleared Ground has already obtained other donor funding for a truck
with crane and a trailer for the MAXX to support their demining and
EOD operations in the country. Therefore, the $200,000 from PM/WRA
will now enable HUMAID to start work again.

b. Cleared Ground has agreed to partner with HUMAID so that
both organizations can maximize operational resources and
experienced personnel. This will also streamline the funding process
by enabling PM/WRA to amend the existing CG grant, incorporating the
HUMAID funding.

7. This funding and partnership fits neatly into American interests
in Guinea-Bissau: sustainable development in Guinea-Bissau cannot
occur without the maximum possible cultivation of land to produce
cash crops. Although demining and UXO removal have freed up
thousands of hectares of land to cultivate cashews, the country's
most important crop, much remains to be done as demining NGOs work
thoroughly from site to site across the country to make land
available to peasants anxious to recommence tilling their land after
decades of dangerous fallowness. As in Senegal, terrorists can
procure UXO to refashion mines, missiles and bombs into IEDs that
HUMAID and Cleared Ground would otherwise remove and destroy.


8. PM/WRA-AFRICOM-Mission Dakar team discovered the existence of
MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense System) in Guinea Bissau. CG
stated that they are currently in military stockpiles, and that CG
had already destroyed a few, and will provide identification
information to PM/WRA forthwith. CG further indicated that it has
strong reason to believe in the existence of more MANPADS that the

DAKAR 00000818 003 OF 003

Guinea Bissau armed forces will turn over to CG for destruction.
Netland asserted the high USG priority of MANPAD destruction and
that PM/WRA will engage in more detailed discussions with CG on
MANPAD destruction initiatives.

9. With continued USG funding, CG and HUMAID continue to destroy
small arms and ammunition from military arms stores, including
cluster bomb units (CBU) that contain cluster munitions housed


10. HUMAID and Cleared Ground are dedicated professionals whose
commitment in a difficult physical and bureaucratic environment
could translate into emergence of an impact-free country in less
than 5 years. Financial resources to meet this goal are relatively
modest and realistic. USG investment in the goals of achieving an
impact-free Guinea-Bissau support the American objectives of
sustainable development, denial to terrorists of explosive ordnance,
and prevention of loss of civilian life and limb. USG investment in
demining the Casamance to the extent possible is a strategic
sub-regional US priority given the geopolitical interdependence of
Senegal, the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau: demining the Casamance
increases a local popular constituency for a peace settlement
because Casamancais will literally and figuratively reap the harvest
of land they have not cultivated for significant periods of time.


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