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Cablegate: Unamid Night Flight Clarification

VZCZCXRO4411
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1270 2330500
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200500Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1677
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001270

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
NSC FOR BPITTMAN AND CHUDSON
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 NIGHT FLIGHT CLARIFICATION

1. (U) On August 17, the Sudan Tribune online reported that the GoS
has permitted UNAMID to conduct night flights in Darfur. The
article reports that "eight months after the start of the hybrid
mission, the Sudanese government agreed to allow the AU-UN
peacekeeping force to fly at night, the head of UNAMID said today."


2. (SBU) On August 19, Adam Day, the assistant to Joint Special
Representative Rodolphe Adada, told poloff that the Sudan Tribune
report was exaggerated and "not true." According to Day, the GoS
agreed "in principle" to UNAMID night flights, once UNAMID completes
upgrades (i.e. extending the runway and adding lights) to the
airports in Darfur. Day said that UNAMID has the capability to land
their planes even without these improvements, as demonstrated by one
landing in an exceptional case. However, he continued, the GoS will
not allow night landings until the upgrades allow all planes to
conduct such night landings on a routine basis.

3. (SBU) Day said that both UNAMID and the GoS are responsible for
this continued misunderstanding. He said the GoS could improve the
situation by allowing UNAMID to speed deployment by allowing UNAMID
to land their planes at night while upgrades are ongoing. For their
part, UNAMID could improve the situation by delivering material
needed for the upgrades to the airports as soon as possible. Day
said that UNAMID is expected to provide all material for the
upgrades to the airports. Day did not specify whether UNAMID would
also be solely responsible for completing all of the work for the
upgrades. Day said there have been approximately one-half dozen
meetings such as this, where "we have not gotten into these
specifics, and we never quite nail down what is going to happen."


4. (SBU) Day noted this issue continues to be an important one
for UNAMID, as an agreement on night landings would more than double
the number of flights bringing contingent-owned equipment into
Darfur. Day said that the next 10-12 days before Ramadan will be
crucial, as work will come to a standstill during the entire month.
Day added that UNAMID and the GoS were drafting an MOU on UNAMID
presence in Sudanese airports that should be completed in the next
two weeks.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: As is often the case with the AU/UN's efforts
in Darfur, the blame for the ongoing difficulty with night flights
seems to fall both on the GoS and UNAMID. The GoS wants to benefit
from UNAMID's work in Darfur and expand its transportation
infrastructure, while UNAMID wants to move material into Darfur
expending the least possible effort. Both of these are reasonable
expectations, but what is unreasonable, and should be pointed out to
both parties, is that the people of Darfur continue to be plagued by
insecurity while slow UNAMID deployment brings little relief. If
UNAMID is serious about engaging with the GOS on this issue and
solving the problem of night flights, it needs to find out precisely
what is required to upgrade the airports and then get the job done.
Emboffs will discuss this with UNAMID during a field visit to El
Fasher next week.

ASQUINO

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