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Cablegate: Summer 2008: Trends Analysis of the Situation in Sudan

VZCZCXRO2481
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1250/01 2301540
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171540Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1646
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0102
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0288
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0108
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0271

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KHARTOUM 001250

AIDAC

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, PRM, AF SE WILLIAMSON
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, BPITTMAN AND 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: ASEC EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: SUMMER 2008: TRENDS ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION IN SUDAN

REF: KHARTOUM 1121

KHARTOUM 00001250 001.2 OF 004


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SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) BEGIN SUMMARY: During July and August, USAID's field officers
provided information and analysis on sector trends throughout Sudan.
Examining the issues of safety and insecurity, food security,
nutrition, health, returns, integration, and political process on a
broader scale offers a chance to recognize and support positive
changes, as well as an opportunity to mitigate those that are
negative. Although the analysis offered few surprises, reports
indicated unanticipated positive gains in the area of health
interventions. By continuing to track and support the international
partnership with Sudanese efforts for progress, Embassy Khartoum and
USAID programming continues to play an active role in helping Sudan
establish peace and move towards relief and recovery activities.
END SUMMARY.

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SECURITY
--------

2. (U) In early July, the UN raised the security levels to Phase III
in non-Darfur Sudan and Phase IV in Darfur. While such a shift
continues to impact the work of UN agencies and USAID's implementing
partners, prior to the Phase shift, USAID field officers captured
additional causes for concern, including increased incidents of
carjacking, ongoing conflict, subsequent displacement, and
government clashes with rebel forces.

3. (SBU) Throughout Darfur, carjacking has increased and the modes
and locations of recent incidents indicate new disturbing trends.
In addition to increased attacks in urban areas of Darfur, USAID
field officers noted an increase in livestock theft, attacks on
empty UN convoys, and carjackers dressed as UN employees. In areas
of West Darfur, the situation in nearby eastern Chad continues to
impact local security. As a result of cross-border incursions in
mid June, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) remain cautious
regarding operations in West Darfur, despite UN efforts to assure
partners and restart programs. Throughout West Darfur, incidents of
banditry have increased. (NOTE: Such an increase underscores a
government security apparatus that is either unwilling or unable to
establish law and order, though we suspect the latter. END NOTE.)
Some areas of West Darfur's southern corridor, including Mukjar,
continue to enjoy relative calm, although due to the proximity of
instability and conflict, the situation could change at any time.

4. (SBU) In North Darfur, the early summer months witnessed
regrouping of armed movements. According to the UN, military and
political regrouping of alliances among rebel groups and Arab
militias offered cause for anxiety for Darfuris in these chronically
problematic areas. In addition, field reports indicate a greater
frequency of clashes among various factions of the Sudanese
Liberation Army.

5. (SBU) In South Darfur, insecurity and bureaucratic impediments
continued to interfere with humanitarian access and assistance. In
June and July, security and humanitarian access deteriorated due to
localized fighting between ethnic groups, as well as the tightening
of government restrictions. As populations flee areas of conflict,
subsequent displacements have compounded an already-critical
humanitarian situation. In addition, humanitarian agencies reported
an increased incidence of government obstruction through denying or
delaying critical supplies e.g. fuel, demanding new requirements
without any forewarning, introducing unexplained flight bans, and
restricting access. The increasing list of bureaucratic impediments
continues to complicate assistance efforts.

6. (U) In other areas of Sudan, implementing partners and UN

KHARTOUM 00001250 002.2 OF 004


agencies await the impact of the recent change in UN security phases
on humanitarian programs and actors. However, despite the shift by
the UN, localized conflicts in Southern Kordofan and a shooting
incident in Agok in early July have perpetuated an environment of
heightened caution and tension. To date, relief agencies continue
program implementation while maintaining a quiet caution and strict
attention to changes in the situation.
NGOS continued to react and adapt flexibly in June and July.
Nevertheless, further deterioration in security in the coming months
due to on-going conflict, reduction in passable roads due to the
rainy season, and staff relocations owing to the UN security phase
change, could result in a further decrease in access, and thus raise
even higher the stakes for humanitarian agencies and beneficiaries.
As of mid August, NGOs and UN agencies report continued normal
operations overall; however, concerns remain for the long-term
effects of reduced staffing and supplies.

-------------
FOOD SECURITY
-------------

7. (U) Throughout Sudan, humanitarians and UN agencies remain
concerned about food security and increasing food prices. In July,
representatives from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) indicated that Darfur remains prone to a near doubling of some
commodity prices since 2007, as well as poor harvest, cross-border
movement of food supplies, and continued tribal conflict. In
addition, FAO reported incidents of people selling livestock to
purchase food, one of the critical indicators for a food insecure
situation. Although FAO continues to provide seeds and the UN World
Food Program has provided a reduced food ration since May, food
insecurity remains an eminent threat in Darfur. In addition, USAID
staff report that some residents have refused assistance in the form
of seeds and tools, believing erroneously that the seed donation
program and WFP's recent ration cuts are indicative of the end of
all food aid to Darfur.

8. (U) In July, FAO raised concerns regarding the impact of
increasing global food prices on markets in Southern and eastern
Sudan. Southern Sudan is dependent on food imports from neighboring
countries, particularly Uganda and Kenya, and humanitarian agencies
and the Sudanese government and implementing partners continue to
monitor the situation closely. In addition, the food security
problem in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State continues to affect
returnees and host communities in the area. Food insecurity is also
a concern in eastern Sudan, particularly Kassala State. In early
August, USAID staff visited Kassala and met with FAO, the
Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), UN agencies, and NGOs to discuss
the situation in Kassala. A recent report by the Ministry of
Agriculture (MoA) reported worrisome indicators, including the
delayed rainy season, an increase in cereal prices, a rise in animal
feed prices, high rates of animal mortality, and the sharp decline
of livestock prices in the local markets. According to FAO, the
cereal price for a 50 kg bag of sorghum in Kassala has increased
from 30 SDG in 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. According to field sources, during July locally
produced animal feed prices doubled or tripled. The MoA report
indicates that Kassala typically needs 21,000 MT of cereals per
month for human and animal consumption; however, as of July and
August, the state is experiencing a monthly gap of at least 4,900
MT.

--------------------
HEALTH AND NUTRITION
--------------------

9. (U) Overall, USAID staff noted positive indicators regarding the
health situation in Sudan. To date, many of the seasonal health
concerns have been mitigated by increased coping mechanisms as well
as targeted programming by humanitarian agencies. In Darfur,

KHARTOUM 00001250 003.2 OF 004


overall, the endemic diseases including diarrhea, acute respiratory
infections, and malaria continue to display the same seasonal trends
as in June and July 2007. Although, as of late July, partners had
not documented any cases of acute watery diarrhea in South Darfur,
humanitarian agencies continue to intensify hygiene-promotion
activities to prevent a possible outbreak with the approach of the
rainy season.

10. (U) According to USAID field reports, the health situation in
northern Sudan and the Three Areas remains stable, with only a few
small suspected outbreaks occurring during the reporting period.
With the onset of the rainy season, cases of acute watery diarrhea
have risen in Southern Sudan and northern Sudan, particularly
Gedaref State. In addition, health agencies have responded to
suspected acute watery diarrhea outbreaks in Juba and Magwi
counties. Since early August, rains in Aweil, Northern Bahr el
Ghazal State have caused heavy flooding, displacement, and concerns
regarding a potential cholera outbreak. UN agencies and NGOs have
responded with health, water/sanitation, and hygiene services, and
are monitoring the situation closely. In addition, the UN has
activated a national flood awareness taskforce which has developed
contingency plans and pre-positioned supplies in the event of
floods. Although the situation remains fairly stable, the peak of
the flood season is typically around mid-September.

11. (U) Since June, NGOs have reported increasing levels of
malnutrition among Abyei internally displaced persons (IDPs)
sheltering in Agok, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. Since late June,
humanitarian agencies have conducted a rapid assessment of the
situation in Agok, followed by a nutritional survey among IDPs and
the host community in Agok. Health agency staff working in Agok
expect that the results of the latest survey will confirm that the
high rates of malnutrition in Agok are connected to poor sanitation
conditions rather than lack of access to food.

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RETURNS
-------

12. (U) Due to the ongoing rainy season, the UN's organized returns
programs concluded in late June, but limited spontaneous returns
continued throughout June and July. Accumulated returns reached 2.1
million IDPs and refugees, 200,000 of which were organized returns
as of the end of May. According to the UN, approximately 27,000
IDPs and refugees have returned since the beginning of 2008. UNHCR
reported that 2,411 persons reached Central and Eastern Equatoria
states from Uganda under May's organized voluntary repatriation
program. The latest arrivals bring the total repatriation of
Sudanese refugees, including spontaneous movement, to approximately
288,002 persons since 2005. Of this number, 135,082 returned under
the organized and assisted self-repatriation programs. According to
the organizers, the joint organized return unit assisted significant
numbers of IDPs during the last two years, and organizers foresee
fewer returns in 2009, as compared with previous years.

13. (SBU) The UN is making preparations to support spontaneous
returns to Abyei, but to date only a small number of IDPs have
returned. As of late July, the majority of the 27,000 IDPs
displaced to Agok from Abyei continued to receive humanitarian
assistance from U.N. agencies and NGOs. As malnutrition remains a
concern among the displaced population, humanitarian agencies have
augmented efforts to increase access to latrines and safe drinking
water in order to mitigate the causal factors of the malnutrition
problem in Agok. During an August 9 meeting with US Special Envoy
Richard S. Williamson, UNMIS Regional Coordinator David Gressly
predicted that future rains and flooding could push people back into
Abyei town because the town's plateau location. Gressly stated that
people will return despite the lack of services (schools, health
clinics, etc.) available in Abyei. Gressly added that the security
concerns of relief agencies working in the area may be "overplayed"
and that donors need to encourage implementing partners to return to

KHARTOUM 00001250 004.2 OF 004


Abyei (reftel). According to Gressly's assessment, effective
deployment of joint integrated police units (JIPUs) will be an
essential element for avoiding future conflict, and UNMIS should
provide protection to facilitate voluntary returns.

ASQUINO

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