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Cablegate: Update On Fighting in Kalma Camp, South Darfur

VZCZCXRO8897
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1300/01 2391500
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 261500Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1726
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0280
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001300

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 JADDLETON
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI KPKO AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON FIGHTING IN KALMA CAMP, SOUTH DARFUR

REF: KHARTOUM 1289

KHARTOUM 00001300 001.2 OF 003


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

1. (SBU) BEGIN SUMMARY: On August 25, USAID staff received reports
of fighting and casualties in Kalma internally displaced person
(IDP) camp, South Darfur (REFTEL). UNAMID stated that armed IDPs
had set up human shields and fired first on GOS forces assembled
outside the camp, and UNAMID managed to respond with Armored
Personnel Carriers (APCs) and police in the afternoon following the
incident. On August 26, USAID received additional information
regarding the casualties, residents fleeing the camp, and emergency
needs within the camp's facilities. USAID will continue to monitor
the situation, and will provide updates as additional information
becomes available. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --------
THE SITUATION IN KALMA: WOUNDED, DEAD, AND SURROUNDED
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. (SBU) All reports indicate that fighting in Kalma camp ceased
around midday on August 25, although the government maintained and
later reinforced a heavy military presence around the camp.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), throughout the day on August 25, the Sudanese
government forces, including police and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF),
refused entry to international non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
trying to access the camp in order to help injured residents.
Additional reports indicate that government troops were
simultaneously trying to remove dead bodies from the camp by force.


3. (SBU) By 1200 hours on August 25, USAID's implementing partner,
the International Rescue Committee (IRC), reported that its clinic
housed at least 64 injured camp residents and three dead. At 1500
hours, IRC clinic staff reported 39 seriously wounded patients with
gunshot injuries and fractures. In addition, the clinic was running
out of IV fluids and antibiotics, and staff reported six patients in
critical condition and in need of an emergency evacuation. By 1700
hours, the clinic had 5 dead civilians. As of 1900 hours, IRC staff
reported that UNAMID forces had accessed the clinic and transported
the six critical patients out of Kalma. Throughout the day,
additional IRC staff tried to gain access to assist their
overwhelmed coworkers; however, Sudanese forces prevented any NGO
access to the camp.

4. (U) Exact numbers of deaths and injuries are conflicting and
unverified; however, according to one UN source, the fighting killed
32 people and injured 105 camp residents. The same UN source
identified the incident as a "full armed confrontation" between SAF
and IDP residents of Kalma camp. In addition, international news
agencies are reporting that thousands of Kalma's residents fled from
the camp and into the desert in order to escape the shooting.

5. (SBU) Medecins Sans Frontieres/Holland (MSF/H) reported that
MSF/H staff treated more than 65 shooting victims, mainly women and
children, in its medical clinic in the camp. MSF/H also reported
that Government of Sudan (GoS) forces tried to prevent MSF/H staff
from entering the camp, and as of 1700 hours on August 25, the GoS
deployed additional army and police forces to Kalma. After gaining
access to the camp at 1800 hours, UNAMID and MSF/H evacuated 45 of
IRC and MSF\H's most critical patients to a hospital in nearby
Nyala. On August 26, MSF/H sent a team to Kalma to assist with
burying the deceased.

6. (U) As of 1200 hours on August 26, international new sources
quoting camp residents indicated that government troops had
reinforced positions around the camp overnight and may be preparing
for a second attack. In addition, camp residents and armed
opposition group members offered casualty numbers including 46 dead
and 118 injured from the firefight.

--------------------------------------------- ---

KHARTOUM 00001300 002.2 OF 003


HUMAN SHIELDS SET UP BY ARMED IDPS: UNAMID
--------------------------------------------- ---

7. (SBU) UNAMID Chief of Staff John Alstrom met with Poloffs at
UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher on August 26 and offered a clearer
explanation of events that led up to the outbreak of hostilities
between IDPs and GOS forces on August 25. According to Alstrom, GOS
police had surrounded the camp the previous evening, with the intent
to search it, but heavy rains forced them to retreat and return the
next morning. Tipped off that authorities intended to enter and
search Kalma, agitators within the camp assembled a group of human
shields, mostly women and children, in the early morning of August
25, and fired first from inside the camp on GOS forces assembled
outside. . As the fighting escalated, GOS forces did not enter the
camp, but continued shooting from outside. UNAMID responded with
a convoy of armored personnel carriers, police and military staff
from El Fasher that, after encountering roadblocks, arrived at
Kalma camp that afternoon to assess the events and estimate
casualties. Although UNAMID is unable to confirm the varying reports
of numbers of dead or wounded, Alstrom did say that some reports
coming from inside the camp may be exaggerated.

8. (SBU) Kamal Saiki, director of UNAMID Public Information,
expressed concern in a meeting with Poloffs on the humanitarian
principle that if IDPs are armed, they can no longer be classified
as IDPS, but must be considered combatants. Saiki believes the event
to have been orchestrated by the Wali of South Darfur and local
police authorities, noting that Khartoum has been helpful in
cooperating with UNAMID as of late.

--------------------------------------------- ---
INTERNATIONALS CONDEMN, LOCAL AUTHORITIES DEFEND
--------------------------------------------- ---

9. (U) On August 25, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator issued a press
statement condemning the incident in Kalma camp. In the UN
statement, the Humanitarian Coordinator called for restraint and the
immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor to allow for the
evacuation of the wounded. On August 26, the UN Humanitarian
Coordinator met with the South Darfur Wali and indicated that the UN
and international community do not welcome the actions taken on the
part of the GoS. In addition, the Humanitarian Coordinator
reiterated that a humanitarian corridor must be established in order
to assist people and underscored that UNAMID should maintain the
corridor. On August 26, the UN sent UNAMID police and military
forces to patrol Kalma camp to confirm details of the incident and
to provide assistance.

10. (SBU) On August 26, U.S. Embassy in Khartoum released the
Department of State's August 25 press statement condemning the
SAF's indiscriminate weapons fire and calling upon the GoS to
investigate the incident and ensure that such actions are not
repeated and delivered it to Ambassador Eltayeb, Director of the
Peace Institute of the MFA. Eltayeb expressed skepticism that GoS
forces used indiscriminate force and said that judgments on the
incident should await a full investigation.

11. (U) On August 25, the SAF issued its own statement on the Kalma
incident, claiming that the GoS carried out the operation in order
to seize weapons stored at the camp and that government forces were
ambushed by camp residents and thus returned fire. In addition, the
statement contended that the Darfur IDPs planned to use such weapons
to carryout sabotage operations and target government forces (Note:
SAF Statement has been sent via email to SPG. End Note.) In the
past, the GoS has raided Kalma, claiming that IDP residents use the
camp as a base for recruitment, opposition, and weapons storage. The
SAF statement also confirms that forces will continue to "besiege"
the camp in order to collect weapons, prevent armed opposition group
access, and impose government sovereignty.

12. (SBU) According to August 26 phone conversations between USAID
staff and NGO representatives, NGOs are calling on the government
and all armed actors to allow a humanitarian corridor that would
allow humanitarian agencies safe access to treat and/or evacuate
those who need medical care. Additionally NGOs are calling on

KHARTOUM 00001300 003.2 OF 003


UNAMID to deploy the formed police unit and civilian police to
provide 24 hour presence within the camp. They are also asking
UNAMID for 24 hour military patrols along the perimeter of the
camp. US Embassy staff currently in El Fasher will meet with UNAMID
on August 27 and plan to discuss the issue further.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

13. (U) Kalma camp is home to between 90,000 and 100,000 IDPs from
29 different ethnic groups. In recent months, Kalma camp has been a
flashpoint for nearly every chronic and reoccurring problem in
Darfur. Whether problems of bureaucratic impediments, fuel and
water shortages, seasonal flooding, or government raids, the camp
continues to make headlines on a weekly or daily basis.

14. (SBU) On August 25, UNAMID received a letter in Arabic from the
GoS Police stating that the GoS had a search warrant authorizing
police to enter Kalma camp. The warrant was effective as of August
24 and authorized GoS forces to search the camp for weapons and
wanted persons. The letter served as UNAMID's notice that the GoS
expected UNAMID assistance and accompaniment for this exercise.

15. (SBU) Shortly after GoS delivered the letter, UNAMID received a
call from the sheikhs (local leaders) of Kalma camp who reported
that the GoS had positioned more than 30 vehicles of personnel at a
checkpoint to the IDP camp. By 0900 hours, the leaders reported
that the vehicles had increased to more than 80 and camp residents
reported that the GoS personnel were shooting randomly into the air.


16. (SBU) According to USAID field staff, on August 21, GoS forces
raided Kalma camp and removed weapons from two IDP houses. This
raid followed an incident during the week of August 18 when National
Security (NISS) and SAF military intelligence forces at the Mojuck
checkpoint 8 km from Nyala detained 11 IDPs en route to Kalma.
Although the IDPs were later released, according to UNAMID, the
detainment was arranged after the government forces alleged the
discovery of arms in Kalma camp.

--------
COMMENTS
--------

17. (SBU) In the past year, the GOS has been quite public in its
desire to close Kalma camp and disperse the camp's residents.
Despite this, the question of who is guilty of provoking this
particularly deadly encounter between the SAF and armed IDPs remains
in dispute. The issue of armed IDPs presents the international
community with yet another source of instability in Darfur. While
UNAMID recognizes that it needs to do more to prevent such
incidents, it continues to have limited capacity to respond once
these violent conflicts erupt.

ASQUINO

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