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Cablegate: Unamid's Reported Failure to Move 3000 Containers

VZCZCXRO9577
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1137 2121444
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301444Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1455
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001137

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: UNAMID'S REPORTED FAILURE TO MOVE 3000 CONTAINERS

1. (SBU) UNAMID has over 3000 containers in Port Sudan and El Obeid,
Kordofan waiting for transportation to Nyala, Darfur, according to a
UNAMID administrative officer. At least half of these are in El
Obeid. According to the officer and to other sources in the NGO and
diplomatic community in Khartoum, the delay in transporting the
containers has absolutely nothing to do with GOS obstruction or a
lack of security escorts. It is almost entirely due to UNAMID weak
logistical capabilities. UNAMID procurement is simply incapable of
cutting the necessary contracts with local transportation companies
to move the containers. Internal financial controls and bureaucracy
as well as slow payment mechanisms prevent UNAMID from cutting the
necessary deals. The German Ambassador noted to CDA Fernandez on
July 27 that "unlike WFP, UNAMID won't pay in cash, and pays late,
they expect Sudanese truckers to have bank accounts." The UNAMID
officer said there are plenty of trucks available; it's just that
the local contractors won't work at the prices offered and given the
late payments. The officer thought it unlikely that additional help
from headquarters would improve the situation. What is required is a
top-down decision to make this happen and find a way to "bend the
system to local circumstances rather than making the local system
bend to UN bureaucracy."

2. (SBU) Meanwhile, WFP is able to transport hundreds of trucks into
Nyala each month. A WFP logistical officer observed that UNAMID
should never have signed single contracts from Port Sudan all the
way to Nyala. WFP splits it into two contracts because one group of
transport companies have trucks that go from Port Sudan to El Obeid
on paved roads, and another group of companies have smaller off-road
capable trucks that go from El Obeid to Nyala. WFP agreed that
UNAMID has problems with delayed payments as well (and probably
should create a mechanism to be able to pay with cash up front,) but
said there is also a lack of trucks that can transport 20 foot
shipping containers. (WFP doesn't ship containers and is therefore
able more flexible and able to use smaller trucks.) So either
UNAMID must buy some trucks to move all these containers, or create
a contract that will allow a local company to buy the necessary
trucks. WFP also suggested that UNAMID should consider moving the
containers via train, since there are trains that go from Port Sudan
to Nyala and from El Obeid to Nyala. A final suggestion was for
UNAMID to consider unpacking the containers and breaking the
shipments into smaller sizes, though TCCs and UNAMID may not be
willing to have their containers opened. "UNAMID needs some
logisticians rather than procurement officers," noted the WFP
officer.

3. (SBU) The WFP officer also noted that even if UNAMID can manage
to move 300 containers a month (a rapid rate given the current
capacity of roads and transport companies,) it will take a year to
move the current back-log. UNAMID had requested assistance from WFP
in moving their containers for them, but ultimately WFP decided it
was too much of a mess and "too politically risky" to become
involved.

4. (SBU) Comment: UNAMID has a very serious and embarrassing problem
on its hands, one that it is not currently capable of solving. It is
much easier for DPKO to posture and hide behind the false image of a
uniformly malevolent Sudanese regime obstructing the UN at every
turn. Instead of seeking advice first on the best method to get the
containers to Nyala, UNAMID signed contracts that local companies
are not able to complete. The fact that UNMIS has a logistical hub
in El Obeid made this a logical place to send containers when UNAMID
was just getting started, but now it is stuck with 1500 containers
in El Obeid that it cannot easily move. New contracts on transport
by train seem possible, combined with repackaging of the contents of
some containers (those that can feasibly be repackaged for smaller
trucks) as well as finding a way to both improve the road to Nyala
and increase the capacity of transport companies by signing new
contracts to help them buy the necessary trucks. UNAMID won't be
able to do this cheaply nor without pursuing creative solutions,
something that the current UNAMID administrative and procurement
apparatus seem incapable of doing. This is not to say the problem
can be easily solved; we warn against berating UNAMID as this is a
seriously complicated logistical issue that requires greater
capacity and attention than UNAMID is currently capable of
dedicating, but at the very least one would have thought they could
have availed themselves of the hard-won experience won by other UN
agencies such as WFP.

FERNANDEZ

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