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Cablegate: Deputy Prime Minister Discusses Ogaden Relief And

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PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2670/01 2730825
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P 290825Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2182
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 002670

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PHUM ET
SUBJECT: DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER DISCUSSES OGADEN RELIEF AND
DEVELOPMENT

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Deputy Prime Minister Adissu Legesse told Ambassador, UN
Res Rep Sarasorro, and USAID Mission Director Anders in a meeting on
September 25 that the government was taking an "integrated" approach
in the Somali region of Ethiopia, similar to the UN-USAID "two
track" approach of humanitarian relief (the "hub and spoke," NGO
grants, training, pastoral programs, etc.) in conjunction with
recovery and transition process to help promote agricultural and
economic development. He noted the focal role of the new State
Minister and his chairing of the joint Special Committee for Somali
region. Due to lack of capacity at the local government level, the
Federal Government will play a larger role, with donor assistance,
in promoting health care, education, water supply, and agro-pastoral
development, the four priorities for the Ogaden region. While the
number of food aid beneficiaries has now been raised to 6.4 million
(based on the joint assessment), including 1.98 million in the
Ogaden, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed hope that food aid needs
will decrease with the rains. While NGOs have reported good access
to many parts of the Somali region, insecurity remains a problem
and, with the recent kidnapping of two foreign aid workers in the
Ogaden, there is a fear of increasing extremist activities hampering
food distribution and other aid. Adissu remarked that ultimately it
is up to the elders and clan leaders in the Somali region of
Ethiopia and their commitment and support of development to bring
peace to the region and that military action by Ethiopian forces is
not a solution. End Summary.

FOCUS IS ON DEVELOPMENT IN THE OGADEN
-------------------------------------

2. (U) The regular joint UN-US dialogue with the government on food
security, food distribution, development and the Ogaden was
conducted September 25. Deputy Prime Minister Adissu Legesse noted
to UN Res Rep Fidele Sarasorro, USAID Director Glenn Anders and
Ambassador that the joint UN-USAID "hub and spoke" plan for food
distribution in the Ogden/Somali region of Ethiopia would soon be
operational and should facilitate greater food deliveries. (Note:
2,900 mt of the anticipated 35,000 mt of relief food was delivered
last month. Under the "hub and spoke" system, large trucks will
take the food from Djibouti to designated centers in the Somali
region of Ethiopia where smaller trucks will deliver the food to
beneficiaries. End Note.) Adissu also remarked that the
dissolution of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency
(DPPA, Ethiopia's emergency disaster agency), in favor of the
establishment of a food security and disaster response organization
to oversee deliveries under a new state minister for agriculture
will improve efficiencies. Further, the newly formed donor-GoE-NGO
Special Committee coordinating group on the Somali region will be
more effective under the new State Minister's leadership.

3. (U) Sarasorro raised the UN-USAID concept of a two pronged
approach to the Ogaden region of pursuing humanitarian relief in
conjunction with promoting longer-term economic development through
"recovery" and "transition" process. The UN and USAID can provide
experts and focus assistance on helping pastoralists recover as well
as promote agricultural development which will help communities
better survive droughts. Adissu noted the GoE's pilot project in 22
woredas in the Ogaden region which stresses the four priorities --
health care, education, water supply, and agro-pastoral development.
This success will be expanded throughout the Somali region.
Sarasorro and Anders made clear their commitment to be a part of the
development strategy for the Somali region. Adissu replied that
discussions are taking place within the government and that he would
approach the UN and USAID within the next two weeks on coordination
and partnership efforts in this area.

BENEFICIARIES -- HOW MANY?
--------------------------

4. (U) The Ambassador raised the requests by Somali regional
government officials to formally increase the number of
beneficiaries, the need for capacity development, and expanded
support from the federal government. Adissu replied that the
Special Committee on the Somali region made up of officials from the
region and officials from various ministries have agreed on the
higher beneficiary number of 1.98 million posed by the Somali region
government. Further, the government raised the total number of
beneficiaries in Ethiopia from 4.8 million, announced in June, to
6.4 million. Questioned on whether this number was too low, Adissu
replied that, due to rains and crop production, he felt the number
of beneficiaries is declining and that food deliveries are
improving. The concern, as the USAID director noted, is the

ADDIS ABAB 00002670 002 OF 002


forecast of poor October rains in the pastoral regions which could
affect the number of beneficiaries. Adissu admitted that there are
pockets of severe malnutrition throughout the country. Still, he
noted that promoting the government's integrated approach or four
priorities of education, health care, water projects and
agricultural development, will help enable the country to cope with
the constant cycles of drought.

PLAYING A BIGGER ROLE IN THE OGADEN
-----------------------------------

5. (U) Adissu said that due to the lack of capacity within the
Somali regional and local governments the federal government will
take a greater role in running the region's development program.
This did not mean complete control or full management of the
region's affairs, but lending experts and working closely with the
regional government on development projects and food distribution.
Adissu stated that his intent is to find ways to help the Somali
region develop expertise and capacity to enable the federal
government to step back in the near future to allow the local
government to run its operations.

SECURITY A MAJOR CHALLENGE
--------------------------

6. (U) The group agreed that insecurity remains a difficult
challenge. Extremists' detentions of aid workers just after the
Ambassador and USAID director visited the Ogaden last week and the
kidnapping of two foreign aid workers by an unknown group operating
out of Somalia this week raised concerns over security. Sarasorro
and the Ambassador noted reports from NGOs in the Ogaden that there
were fewer restrictions on travel, but asked whether security issues
will change this condition. Adissu speculated that the insecurity
is limited to only a couple of places, outside of Jijiga, Fik,
Degahabur, and Warder towns. He believed that the current openness
in most parts of the Ogaden will continue.

7. (U) Adissu concluded the meeting by expressing frustration over
press reports of human rights abuse and restrictions by the
Ethiopian government in the Ogaden region. He noted the openness
reported by the NGOs there and the expansion to over 20 NGOs
operating in the region. The group remarked to Adissu on the need
for the government to address the concerns raised by the NGOs and
other groups as well as to inform, through possible regular press
conferences on how the Ethiopian Government is correcting problems,
addressing needs, and correcting possible misinformation.

COMMENT
-------
8. (SBU) These UN-US joint meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister
have helped raise more effectively in a smaller forum the concerns
over food deliveries, NGO access, development questions and human
rights issues on behalf of the donor, international, and NGO
communities. The UN-US joint approach has led to the establishment
of the joint Special Committee for the Somali region as a forum for
NGO's, donors and the government. Frustrations remain and responses
are slow, as displayed by the three month delay in the government's
agreement to implement the "hub and spoke" food delivery approach,
but Adissu, who has not often met with donor groups, has readily met
with the UN-US group. The security situation is a growing concern
to the donor group and while the NGOs have reported fewer human
rights abuses by the Ethiopian military recently, it likely is due
in large part to the lack of fighting in the region. The
unprecedented kidnapping of foreign aid workers is an alarming sign
and could signal a resumption of fighting by insurgents and
extremists from Somalia which would lead to a rapid response from
the Ethiopian security forces. We will continue to work closely
with the Deputy Prime Minister and our own private meetings with the
Prime Minister and other members of the ruling party's central
committee to inform and influence the situation in the Somali Region
and other parts of Ethiopia. End Comment.

YAMAMOTO

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