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Cablegate: Somalia - Care Continues to Negotiate With

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OO RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2564 3151713
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101713Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7554
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEPVAA/COMJSOC FT BRAGG NC IMMEDIATE
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 7410

UNCLAS NAIROBI 002564

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/E AND A/S FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PINS PREL SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - CARE CONTINUES TO NEGOTIATE WITH
AL-SHABAAB SPOKESMAN FOR ACCESS TO NEEDY

REF: NAIROBI 2521

1. (SBU) Summary. Negotiations continue between al-Shabaab
spokesman Mukhtar Robow and humanitarian relief organization
CARE over whether CARE can continue to feed one million
people in southern and central Somalia. In October, Robow
told CARE to leave Somalia or face attack (reftel). CARE
says Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) Asmara
faction leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has offered to
intervene on CARE's behalf but his efforts, if there have
been any, have had no effect yet. Meanwhile, CARE has
reluctantly taken initial steps to permanently ramp down its
operations. In the short term, the World Food Program (WFP)
and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have
agreed to make essential deliveries in CARE's area of
responsibility. End summary.

Al-Shabaab Spokesman
Refuses to Withdraw
Threat
--------------------

2. (SBU) At a November 7 meeting, CARE's Somalia country
team briefed USAID and Poloff on their to date fruitless
negotiations with al-Shabaab and the possibility that they
will be forced to close their food distribution programs in
southern and central Somalia (reftel). David Gilmour, CARE's
Somalia Country Director, said CARE had been talking with
al-Shabaab spokesman Mukhtar Robow about CARE's re-entry to
Somalia. Robow warned CARE in October to withdraw from
"jihadist-held areas," or be attacked. With Somalia's rapidly
deteriorating security situation in mind, CARE has drawn down
and temporarily suspended its food distribution to one
million people in southern and central Somalia.

3. (SBU) In addition to Robow, CARE is in contact with
Sheikh Dahir Aweys, chairman of a rump faction of the ARS
based in Asmara. Aweys favors CARE's return to Somalia, and
has offered to lobby Robow on CARE's behalf. Aweys has
counseled persistence and patience with the al-Shabaab
leader, according to Gilmour.

CARE Draws Down
---------------

4. (SBU) Gilmour said CARE cannot resume its work until
Robow rescinds his threat, which it regards as credible. In
anticipation of not being able to return to southern and
central Somalia, Gilmour said CARE has started a 3 - 6 month
close-out process. CARE is early in the process, with many
steps reversible, but later stages will be more difficult to
rescind if negotiations with al-Shabaab fail to bear fruit.
Until the end of the year, CARE has handed over its food
deliveries to the WFP and ICRC, both of which still operate
in southern and central Somalia. CARE will continue its work
in Somalia's Puntland and Somaliland regions. Over the long
term, CARE may be forced to permanently turn over its food
distribution to WFP or subcontractors, if donors agree to
waive all-important accountability and monitoring
requirements. There is no agency at present ready to pick up
CARE's large, non-food aid programs to internally displaced
persons, however.

Comment
-------

5. (SBU) In an effort to clear the way for continued
humanitarian aid deliveries, CARE has attempted direct talks
with Robow, and has endeavored to enlist the help of
influential elders, whose clans would be directly affected by
a suspension of humanitarian aid, all to no avail. Al-Shabaab
via Robow has allegedly blacklisted CARE, and IMC, because it
alleges that the NGOs had provided information to the USG
that led to attacks on its personnel. Although Robow has,
under pressure, rescinded an earlier edict that all
international aid organizations should close up shop, he has
refused to retract threats made to CARE, whose withdrawal, if
it occurs, would mark another milestone in the increasingly
difficult environment in which NGOs must work.
RANNEBERGER

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