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Cablegate: Sudan - U.N. Under-Secretary General Holmes Briefs Donor

P 041248Z DEC 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2483
INFO DARFUR COLLECTIVE
CJTF HOA
USMISSION UN ROME
NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001752


AIDAC

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, PRM
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SP, DCHA SUDAN
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND SFO
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NSC FOR CPRATT, MMAGAN, AND BPITTMAN
NEW YORK FOR DMERCADO
BRUSSELS FOR JADDLETON
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG, HSPANOS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ASEC PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL HOLMES BRIEFS DONOR
COMMUNITY ON RECENT TRIP TO SUDAN

1. Summary: On November 29, U.N. Under-Secretary General (U/SYG)
for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John
Holmes briefed the donor community in Khartoum on his recent trip to
Sudan, which included visits to all three Darfur states, the Three
Areas, and Southern Sudan, as well as meetings with government
officials in Khartoum. Holmes expressed concern regarding worsening
violence and increasingly constricted access to affected communities
in Darfur, noting the fragility of the humanitarian operation.
Holmes also noted significant resource gaps for early recovery
needs, particularly in the health sector, in Southern Sudan, where
the humanitarian emergency has ended but key indicators for child
and maternal health remain critical. The U/SYG also observed that
lack of reconciliation between communities and reconstruction is
preventing many internally displaced persons (IDPs) from returning
to the Three Areas.

2. U/SYG Holmes's visit came at a time when humanitarian agencies,
particularly in South Darfur, have expressed growing concern
regarding the sustainability of Darfur aid operation, given
bureaucratic obstacles (which are worst in South Darfur state) and
increased insecurity. U/SYG requested that the humanitarian
community do everything possible to resolve lingering issues before
problems escalate, while also stressing to the Government of
National Unity (GNU) Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) their
responsibility to protect humanitarian aid workers, the importance
of consistent application of agreements, and the necessity of
continuing humanitarian interventions for IDPs and non-IDPs. End
Summary.

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DARFUR
------

3. The prevailing themes that emerged from Holmes's visits to the
three Darfur states were security, or lack thereof, and shrinking
humanitarian space. While humanitarian agencies have been
remarkably successful in sustaining the lives of more than 4.7
million Darfuris, insecurity continues to escalate, with attacks on
humanitarian workers and limited access hampering relief efforts.
Many places in Darfur are only accessible via helicopter, making
access difficult and expensive.

4. Holmes acknowledged that the problems facing the humanitarian
community throughout Darfur are at their worst in South Darfur,
where non-governmental organizations (NGOs) experience a level of
intimidation and Sudanese government harassment not felt in other
Darfur regions. Holmes relayed that he had encouraged Sudanese
government officials in South Darfur to consider protection and
gender-based violence programs as part of a complete humanitarian
response to the Darfur crisis and to take counter-measures against
attacks on IDPs, NGOs, and U.N. staff.

5. During the U/SYG's visit to Kalma IDP camp, which has been
historically the most politically sensitive camp in Darfur and was
the site of a Sudanese government massacre in August 2008, IDPs
reported no intention of returning to their pre-crisis homes. IDPs
expressed concern regarding the ongoing insecurity and requested
increased security measures. Holmes reported that U.N.-African
Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) patrols have improved the security
situation in Kalma camp now that there is a 24-hour Bangladeshi FPU
(Formed Police Unit) presence since September. Holmes noted,
however, that many other camps in Darfur are in need of increased
protection and security measures, particularly in the face of
continued gender-based violence. UNAMID currently lacks the
capacity to replicate the Kalma patrols in all camps and the HAC
remains suspicious of all protection and gender-based
violence-related programming (Note: the Kalma FPU is the first of 19
expected FPUs under UNAMID, two others - Indonesia and Nepalese -
have now arrived in Darfur but are not fully operational).

6. Security is also a significant problem in West Darfur, where the
presence of large numbers of Khartoum-supported Chadian armed
opposition forces requires UNAMID to escort humanitarian workers to
project sites. Holmes reported that IDPs have concerns regarding
limited UNAMID presence and continued insecurity, which prevents
IDPs from considering returns. Holmes also noted that the prolonged
presence of Darfur's IDP camps is causing severe environmental
damage, with firewood collection and use, the timber trade,
construction, and brick-making (which requires water) straining the
already limited natural resources in the area.

----------------------------------
THE THREE AREAS AND SOUTHERN SUDAN
----------------------------------

7. U/SYG Holmes identified returns as the main concern in Agok and
Abyei, noting that conditions remain unfavorable for full returns.
Holmes met with the new Abyei Administrator and Deputy
Administrator, who reported that government resources have not yet
materialized for the implementation of the Abyei roadmap. In Abyei,
only 1,000 of approximately 50,000 IDPs have returned, and
reconstruction has not yet begun. Approximately 30,000 of the IDPs
from Abyei remain in Agok. The IDPs continue to be distrustful of
living near the Misseriya Arabs and require assurances of security
before returning.

9. U/SYG Holmes also highlighted the continued early recovery and
recovery needs in Southern Sudan, noting that key health and
nutrition indicators in Southern Sudan continue to be significantly
worse than in Darfur. Holmes urged continued donor support for
basic services, construction efforts, and development. Holmes
stated that reconstruction in areas outside of Juba remains limited
and noted that the Government of Southern Sudan must contribute more
to the early recovery and construction effort in areas outside of
Juba.

--------------------------------------
MEETINGS WITH KHARTOUM-LEVEL MINISTERS
--------------------------------------

10. The U/SYG's meetings with HAC Commissioner Hassabo Abdurahman
in Khartoum focused primarily on the obstacles to the humanitarian
effort in Darfur. Holmes and the HAC Commissioner discussed
programming in sensitive areas and harassment of NGOs in South
Darfur, as well as the need for increased GNU investment in the aid
effort, improved camp coordination, the introduction of multiple
entry and exit visas for NGO staff, and government intervention to
improve security. The notoriously duplicitous HAC agreed to
consider the requests but gave no indication of when or if the
U/SYG's suggestions would be implemented.

11. Holmes noted that the humanitarian community and the Sudanese
government continue to hold diverging positions regarding the issue
of returns in Darfur. The Khartoum government insists that
large-scale returns have begun in Darfur, while the humanitarian
community does not currently report on returns. Holmes recognized
increasing evidence that small numbers of IDPs are returning to
cultivate and harvest but noted that the population movements are
currently on a very small scale. The HAC believes that humanitarian
agencies are exaggerating the total numbers of affected Darfuris,
while underestimating the numbers of returnees. During meetings
with HAC officials, Holmes agreed to re-examine the numbers of
returnees and the total number of affected populations, including
IDPs, in Darfur.

12. Holmes commended the government for their increased engagement
and dialogue with international NGOs on key issues as a result of
the Joint Communique. However, extensive delays and blockages
remain in place on visas, travel permits, the transfer of funds, and
equipment. While acknowledging the positive steps that had been
taken with the timely renewal of the Moratorium on Restrictions, the
earliest ever renewal, Holmes highlighted the importance of the
government's compliance with existing agreements in both letter and
spirit. Holmes encouraged the GNU to ensure the High Level
Committee meets once a month to monitor the implementation, or lack
thereof, of the Joint Communique and monitor the functioning of the
new state level Tri-partite Joint Technical Committee (TJTC).
Holmes requested that the humanitarian community address
inconsistencies between state and federal-level application of
agreements within the TJTC, urging that relief agencies resolve
outstanding issues before the problems escalate. Given U.K. and
U.S. concerns regarding HAC seizure of government-owned NGO assets,
Holmes agreed to raise the issue with the HAC in future meetings.

----------
CONCLUSION
----------

13. U/SYG Holmes's third visit to Sudan confirmed the continuing
deterioration of access and security in Darfur and ongoing
challenges for early recovery in other regions of Sudan. According
to Holmes, the key issues remain protection of civilians,
particularly women and children; safety and security for aid
workers; and respect for the fundamental principles of
humanitarianism. Holmes identified an enduring and comprehensive
peace settlement in Darfur as the needed solution for the crisis,
the absence of which will continue to hamper relief efforts and
place conflict-affected Darfuris and humanitarian staff at risk.
Embassy Khartoum will continue to monitor government cooperation and
advocate on behalf of NGOs in Darfur.

FERNANDEZ

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