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Cablegate: Kassala State- Humanitarian Coordination and Concerns

VZCZCXRO0882
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1229/01 2271326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141326Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1602
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0093
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0279
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0099
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0262

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001229

AIDAC

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, PRM, AF SE WILLIAMSON
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND BPITTMAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SP, USAID/W DCHA SUDAN
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NEW YORK FOR FSHANKS
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: KASSALA STATE- HUMANITARIAN COORDINATION AND CONCERNS

KHARTOUM 00001229 001.2 OF 003


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) SUMMARY: Between August 3 and 5, USAID staff visited Kassala
State in eastern Sudan. During the trip, the USAID team delivered
mosquito nets requested by a local teaching hospital, and met with
local implementing partners and UN agencies to discuss aspects of
the humanitarian situation in the state. The team examined issues
including flood preparedness, food security, and overall
humanitarian conditions, and discussed future options and
contingency plans with humanitarian workers in Kassala. END
SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ------
USAID DONATES BED NETS TO KASSALA TEACHING HOSPITAL
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (U) On August 3, USAID delivered 200 mosquito nets to Kassala
Teaching Hospital. The hospital administration, including the
hospital's managing director, medical director, registrar, and
senior surgeon accepted the donation and thanked the U.S. delegation
for supporting the hospital's staff and its patients. The Kassala
Teaching Hospital was built in 1907 and serves the rural population
throughout Kassala State. During his visit to Kassala State in May,
U.S. Charg d'Affaires Alberto M. Fernandez visited the teaching
hospital. The hospital administration asked for U.S. assistance to
procure bed nets for inpatients. The Charg requested USAID
assistance with procuring and delivering the mosquito nets to the
hospital.

3. (SBU) According to hospital officials, the century-old facility
suffers from problems that impact the hospital's ability to provide
adequate health services. The most pressing issues include a poor
drainage system, poor electricity network and supply, and the need
to rehabilitate the surgery theater and children's ward. According
to the hospital's managing director, although the hospital serves
the rural population of Kassala State, the humanitarian assistance
funding that is provided to the rural population does not include
the hospital. The Kassala State Ministry of Health spends
approximately 90,000 USD on the hospital's monthly operation.

------------------
FLOOD PREPAREDNESS
------------------

4. (U) The UNMIS Resident Coordinator's Office (RCO) organized a
meeting for the sector lead agencies of the flood preparedness
taskforce to update USAID on flood response plans. The RCO, UN
Children's Fund (UNICEF), UN Mine Action Organization (UNMAO), UN
World Food Program (WFP), UN Mission in Sudan Disarmament,
Demobilization, and Reintegration Unit (UNMIS DDR), and Humanitarian
Aid Commission (HAC) attended the meeting. Currently, the group has
established a flood preparedness task force and conducted several
meetings with government counterparts, revised the contingency plan,
and is building capacity to assist up to 15,000 households during
potential floods. To date, the committee has pre-positioned
materials and earmarked resources for flood response, although
members reported a gap between supplies that are required and those
readily available. In addition, the UN Joint Logistics Center
(UNJLC) has provided training for NGO staff on non-food items (NFI)
distribution including assessment, monitoring, and reporting in
order to enhance capacities and create a state of readiness on the
human resource side.

5. (U) Flood committee members argued that the situation in Kassala
State should continue to be treated as an emergency despite the fact
that Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) has been signed and is
currently holding. According to the members, additional emergency
issues including frequent floods, possible drought, frequent
outbreak of diseases, high rates of malnutrition and mortality for

KHARTOUM 00001229 002.2 OF 003


children under five years of age, poor access to basic services, and
the presence of vulnerable groups are cause for maintaining this
emergency status. Flood committee members appealed to donors to
consider such indicators when making assessments and decisions.

---------------------------------
FOOD SECURITY CONCERNS IN KASSALA
---------------------------------

6. (U) The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that
the Kassala State Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Ministry of
Animal Resource and Fishery (MoARF) organized a meeting with FAO and
other NGOs in agriculture and livelihood sector and established a
drought preparedness taskforce. According to MoA field reports, the
delayed rainy season, increased cereal and animal feed prices, high
rates of animal mortality, and sharp decline of livestock prices in
the local markets are all worrisome indicators of increasing food
insecurity. MoA officials warned that Kassala is heading towards a
drought if the rainy season and rainfall pattern continue to be slow
and absent for two more weeks, the remainder of the typical planting
season. (NOTE: Since the visit and meeting, updated field reports
have indicated that rain has started to fall in Kassala. END NOTE).


7. (U) According to FAO, the price of a 50 kg bag of sorghum has
increased from 30 SDG during summer 2007 to 118 SDG in summer 2008.
Sorghum is the main staple in Kassala State and 30 percent of the
quantities sold go for animal feed. Since July 2008, field reports
indicate that locally produced animal feed prices have nearly
tripled.

8. (U) Recently, MoA released a report indicating that Kassala uses
approximately 21,000 MT of cereal for monthly human and animal
consumption, and the state is currently experiencing a monthly gap
of at least 4,900 MT. MoA recommends that government authorities
release stocks from the grain reserve to fill the current gap,
offering the grain at a lower price to be affordable to poor
households. MoA also urges state officials to ban sorghum exports
to neighboring countries. (NOTE: Kassala State has a total of 4
million feddan of cultivable land which is mostly rain-fed; the
irrigated land in the state is estimated to be 10 percent. END
NOTE).

9. (U) According to a report released by the MoARF, local
authorities reported an alarming increase in livestock mortality
during July. MoARF officials reported up to 27,000 animals died
during June and July, mostly small ruminants (sheep and goats).
Kassala State has approximately 4 million livestock heads and 55
percent of the population is pastoralist. As noted above, animal
feed prices have increased: a bundle of sorghum straw increased from
0.25 to 1 SDG for dry sorghum and from 0.50 to 3 SDG for green
sorghum. The price of 50 kg of locally produced animal feed also
increased from 20 to 46 SDG.

-----------------------------------------
ADDITIONAL HUMANITARIAN ISSUES IN KASSALA
-----------------------------------------

10. (U) As of December 2007, UNMIS DDR had completed the disarmament
and demobilization of 1,700 ex-combatants in Kassala. The UN
Development Program (UNDP) has commenced the re-integration phase
with counseling for ex-combatants and plans to be fully operational
within two months. In addition, UNICEF is helping 300 ex-child
soldiers become re-integrated. Depending on resource availability,
UNMIS DDR is also considering assisting 700 additional ex-combatants
from the Eastern Front and 1,200 SAF soldiers.

11. (U) During August, FAO plans to conduct an agriculture and
livestock assessment in Kassala State, targeting areas affected by
flooding in previous years and areas occupied by vulnerable groups.
The assessment will be part of a national assessment project for

KHARTOUM 00001229 003.2 OF 003


northern Sudan and non-Darfur that is expected to inform FAO's
revised food security strategy and national appeal.

12. (U) UNMAO reported that operations to clear Kassala roads for
development purposes have not yet commenced. UNMAO is still
operating under an emergency phase and facing a severe funding
shortage. During the last week of July, rural Kassala experienced
two incidents involving unexploded ordnance. According to the March
2008 mine impact survey, Kassala has 27.3 million square
mine-infested meters.

13. (U) In Kassala State, WFP continues to provide emergency
programming, including a year-old school feeding program that
targets one section of Hamesh Koreb. In addition, WFP plans to
partner with Samaritan's Purse (SP) to support a tuberculosis
program in Hamesh Koreb, as well as to partner with German
Agro-Action (GAA) for a Food for Work (FFW) program to support dam
construction in the area. Partnering with the Sudanese Red Crescent
Society, WFP and GAA are also planning supplementary feeding
programs for children under five years of age, as well as pregnant
and lactating mothers.

14. (U) SP opened an office in Kassala in September 2007 to reach
and assist populations in Hamesh Koreb. To date, SP supports food
assistance, health, agriculture activities, and water, sanitation,
and hygiene programs. According to SP staff, the 32 communities most
affected by the conflict are now divided between Hamesh Koreb (14)
and nearby Telkouk (18). Currently, SP is working on access
procedures to be able to extend assistance to Telkouk locality, and
the organization plans to use 175,000 USD from the Common
Humanitarian Fund in addition to its own funding to assist the
Telkouk population.

15. (U) German Agro-Action (GAA) has been located in Hamesh Koreb
since 2007 and began implementing programs in March 2008. According
to GAA staff, access in the area open, and authorities respond
positively to GAA requests for access to the enclaves. To date, GAA
has constructed 20 dams in Hamesh Koreb area for flood protection
and water harvesting and plans to construct 15 additional dams in
Hamesh Koreb, as well as 30 dams in both Telkouk and Kassala
localities. GAA works with a private contractor in order to
implement construction.

16. (U) GAA works with FAO to assist 2,000 farmers in Hamesh Koreb
with seeds and tools and train 24 agriculture extension workers with
training of trainers courses. GAA also plans to engage with WFP to
establish 800 gabions to prevent soil erosion and support the dams
throughout Hamesh Koreb locality. GAA has received approximately 1
million EUROs from the European Commission to support GAA work in
the food security, agriculture, and forestry for the next three
years.

--------
COMMENT
--------

17. (U) USAID will continue to closely monitor Kassala State and Red
Sea State for potential floods, droughts, and increased food
insecurity and resulting humanitarian consequences. Barring
unfavorable conditions or serious floods in both states, USAID will
conduct a follow-up visit to both areas to assess the situation and
respond appropriately to humanitarian conditions.

FERNANDEZ

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