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Cablegate: Update On Darfur Iom Detainees Case

VZCZCXRO0095
PP RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1420 1661201
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151201Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3248
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001420

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR D, AF/FO, AF/RSA, AND AF/SPG
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/EA AND DCHA SUDAN GROUP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ASEC MOPS KPKO PREF UN AU SU
SUBJECT: Update on Darfur IOM Detainees Case

Ref: Khartoum 01409

1. Summary: Late on June 14, the Sudan Liberation Army
(SLA) released the remaining five of seven International
Organization for Migration (IOM) staff detained on June
13 by a field commander loyal to the Abdel Wahid faction
near Kutum, North Darfur State. The faction suspected
the team of serving as spies, and stated that future
visits to the area would require permission from the
field commander. End summary.

2. On June 13, an IOM team of one international and six
national staff was reported missing in Kutum, in North
Darfur State. Earlier the same day, the team departed
Kutum for Irgie (50 km west of Kutum). Last contact with
the team was made at 1:38 p.m. that day, when the team
was located 35 km west of Kutum. The UNDSS later
contacted the local community in Kutum with no results on
the party's whereabouts. The AU, NGOs, and other sources
were contacted in the area, and the UNDSS tried to
establish contact with Musa Hilal, a prominent leader of
armed militia in the area. The UNDSS subsequently
launched a search and rescue team.

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3. On the afternoon of June 14, the captors released the
international staff member and a Sudanese woman staff
member. Later on June 14, the Abdel Wahid-affiliated SLA
field commander released the five remaining IOM staff
(all Sudanese men) and their vehicles. They spent the
night in Kutum and are traveling back to El Fasher on
June 15.

4. There is no generalized feeling in North Darfur that
the UN is being targeted or that recent events are
attempts to intimidate. The Abdel Wahid field commander
who was holding the IOM staff is pro-UN, but does not
trust Sudanese staff. The Sudanese staff were accused of
spying for the Mini Minawi SLA faction and the GNU.
The field commander stated that any groups traveling
through his territory must contact him directly and not
rely on other SLA notifications. IOM reportedly got lost
on the road and inadvertently traveled into the area.
(Note: the UN indicates that the AU commander in Kutum
reportedly was instrumental in negotiating the release of
the IOM staff. End note.)

HUME

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