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Cablegate: Se Williamson's Meeting with Ocha

VZCZCXRO2461
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1248/01 2301505
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171505Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1640
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0096
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0282
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0102
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0265

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001248

AIDAC

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, PRM, AF SE WILLIAMSON
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, BPITTMAN, CHUDSON
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: SE WILLIAMSON'S MEETING WITH OCHA

KHARTOUM 00001248 001.2 OF 003


-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) BEGIN SUMMARY. On August 14, UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Chief, Mike McDonagh, briefed Special
Envoy Williamson on the current state of affairs in Darfur and
Abyei. Regarding Abyei, McDonagh noted progress with the pullout of
the SPLM and SAF and the deployment of the JIU. McDonagh's take on
Darfur was mixed, as he noted that while security incidents in the
first 6 months of 2008 are higher than the last 12 months combined,
the overall humanitarian situation in Darfur is under control with
health and nutrition indicators remaining steady. END SUMMARY.

------------------------
Positive Marks for Abyei
------------------------

2. (SBU) Overall, McDonagh felt that Abyei is on track with both
sides withdrawing, a JIU in place, and an Administrator and Deputy
Administrator named. Regarding the newly-created Administration,
McDonagh noted it was a positive sign that Edward Lino was not
appointed Abyei Administrator, echoing a sentiment heard earlier in
the week from NGOs working in and around Abyei (septel). McDonagh
noted that IDPs would most likely start returning to Abyei in
December or January, once infrastructure is in place. Currently,
"people are better off where they are", McDonagh said, stating that
it will take some time for resettlement programs to be implemented
as such programs tend to be complicated to arrange. McDonagh
indicated that relief agencies are providing humanitarian assistance
for the IDPs in Agok and overall, the humanitarian operations are
going well. On the issue of rebuilding Abyei, McDonagh stressed the
importance of holding the parties responsible for the destruction of
Abyei accountable for its rebuilding. In terms of longer term
planning for Abyei, McDonagh highlighted the importance of
supporting programs at the local level that will facilitate
community-building and ensure Missiriya populations have access when
they start to return to the area in November.

----------------------------------------
Security Incidents on the Rise in Darfur
----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) McDonagh highlighted security as a major concern in Darfur:
"We have seen more security incidents in the first 6 months of this
year than we saw in the last 12 months combined", McDonagh said.
Additionally, inter Arab and inter-opposition group fighting has led
to new displacements and secondary displacements resulting in 1,000
displacements a day in Darfur. Although expats are very exposed in
Darfur, humanitarian aid workers continue to operate there under
what McDonagh called an "acceptable level of violence," highlighting
the fact that despite the fact security conditions are bad,
insecurity is not so severe as to cause NGOs to pull out of Darfur
completely. Expats are targets due to having lucrative assets not
because they are expats, McDonagh said, highlighting the fact that
only two expats have been killed to date in Darfur. One staff member
was killed in a landmine accident, and the second from an allergic
reaction to bee stings. Currently there are 1,000 expats and 16,000
national staff working in Darfur. In light of the contentious
relationship that the international community has with the
government, McDonagh noted that the high numbers of relief staff are
a surprising fact. The fact humanitarian aid workers are still
receiving visas for Sudan is something to note.

----------------------
Access Still a Problem
----------------------

4. (SBU) McDonagh stated that overall access within Darfur is still
a problem, with the humanitarian community relying increasingly on
air transport to travel throughout Darfur. He added this limited

KHARTOUM 00001248 002.2 OF 003


access has led to a decline in the quality of humanitarian
programming, especially in the health and nutrition sectors where
frequent and consistent oversight and monitoring of a program are
critical to a program's success. "This is a massive operation"
McDonagh said, "but inputs are decreasing due to lack of access".
In spite of all the constraints, McDonagh noted that nutrition
indicators are holding steady. "You are not going to find large
pockets of malnutrition in Darfur" McDonagh said. He attributes
this to the fact that populations still have the ability to move to
areas where they can get help. Borders are open and people are able
to cross. As such, in McDonagh's words, we are not seeing
"Ethiopian scale deaths" in Darfur.

---------------------
Empty Bowls in Darfur
---------------------

5. (SBU) According to McDonagh, providing food assistance is the
most troubling aspect of the humanitarian response in Darfur. "It
is the most important thing we do", McDonagh said, stating that the
current food situation is tenuous, but for the time being, under
control. The Government of Sudan (GoS) needs to do more, McDonagh
said, adding that between 2004 and 2008, the UN World Food Program
(WFP) provided 2 million metric tons (MT) of food for Darfur,
whereas the GoS contributed 20,000 MT of food and WFP paid the
transport costs for the GoS food. Whereas the total humanitarian
aid donation has totaled approximately 4 billion USD, the GoS
donation is a mere 4 million USD, which is only one tenth of one
percent of the total food aid given to the hungry people in Darfur.


------------------------
Decentralized Harassment
------------------------

6. (SBU) Despite some positive steps forward, the NGO community
continues to encounter government-initiated stumbling blocks.
McDonagh sited harassment of the NGOs as still being a huge problem
in Darfur. There continues to be a troubling disconnect between the
federal and state levels regarding rules and regulations for the
NGOs. Even though the General Directory of Procedures (GDP) is in
place, state governments continue to create new requirements and put
new restrictions in place for Darfur operations that are not
addressed in the GDP. According to McDonagh, this problem is most
evident in South Darfur. McDonagh attributes the increased
harassment in South Darfur to Hassabo, the HAC Commissioner, who is
from South Darfur. McDonagh characterized Hassabo as a
troublemaker. This lack of government coordination leaves
humanitarian organizations spending time on trying to meet HAC
requirements instead of on program implementation.

--------
Comment
--------

7. (SBU) Although the recent successes in Abyei should be cautiously
lauded (and monitored closely,) the ongoing humanitarian situation
in Darfur is troubling. According to McDonagh, the situation in the
IDP camps in Darfur could not get much worse. Referring to the
overall humanitarian situation in Darfur, McDonagh's sense was that
the current status quo could continue forever. While the GOS has
taken some positive steps, and the problems of banditry are more
often than not linked to undisciplined rebel groups, the problems of
access and security will continue to plague humanitarian relief
efforts. The international community must continue to press the GOS
on reducing bureaucratic impediments. However, as McDonagh noted,
relief workers are able to get visas despite the delays, and there
are currently 1000 INGO expatriate staff in Darfur. On the
political front, every effort should be made to attempt to broker a
new comprehensive ceasefire, which should include security
guarantees for humanitarian access. The new Chief Mediator should

KHARTOUM 00001248 003.2 OF 003


engage as soon as possible in this process.

8. (U) SE Williamson did not clear this cable prior to his
departure.

ASQUINO

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