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Cablegate: Sudan - Squatter Village Demolished in Gezira State

VZCZCXRO2492
PP RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1961/01 2290403
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170403Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4198
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001961

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR JBRAUSE, NSC/AFRICA FOR TSHORTLEY
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - SQUATTER VILLAGE DEMOLISHED IN GEZIRA STATE

KHARTOUM 00001961 001.2 OF 002


1. This is an action cable - see para 9.

2. Summary: Heavily armed police surrounded a squatter village in
El Gezira State and demolished several hundred houses early morning
on August 16. Villagers had been in negotiations with the
Government of National Unity, but disagreed on the assigned plot for
relocation of their community. Many members of the resident
committee were arrested, three people suffered gunshot wounds, one
child died, and one person was severely beaten. UN D/SRSG HC
briefed the international community late afternoon on August 16 and
asked for diplomatic interventions. See para 8 for request for
guidance. End summary.

3. The UN Deputy Resident Representative and Humanitarian
Coordinator (D/SRSG HC), Manuel Aranda da Silva, called an urgent
meeting to brief donor representatives on the forceful evacuation of
the squatter camp Dar Assalam in El Gezira State 40 km south of
Khartoum. A team of three human rights and protection officers from
the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) assessed the situation
and found that about 12,000 residents of the squatter village had
been evicted and their houses destroyed.

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----------
Background
----------

4. Dar Assalam is an area occupied by internally displaced persons
who fled the severe drought in the late 1970s and 80s. The
Government of National Unity (GNU) has frequently evicted squatters
there, and tension about their presence is long-standing.

5. In January 2006, the residents formed a committee to negotiate
an agreement with the GNU for an acceptable relocation. This
committee is supported by various political groups, including the
Popular Committee, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, Umma
Party/Giada Gamaza, the Chief of Meseria, and the Sudanese Group of
Human Rights and Youth Association. A Memorandum of Understanding
was signed spelling out the conditions for relocation.

6. The area determined by the GNU for relocation is located about
five kilometers south of the squatter village and is known as Block
4. It is surrounded by a number of factories, some of which pollute
the environment. The squatter committee had commissioned a study
and learned that about 65 percent of the area assigned for
relocation is not inhabitable due to pollution. The GNU denies
these findings and claims that Block 4 is an acceptable location
under certain conditions. A document laying out these conditions
reportedly has been made available to the residents.

--------
Findings
--------

7. The UNMIS assessment team learned from the residents that at
0800 on August 16, thousands of heavily armed policemen surrounded
the village, placed twelve tanks and a number of machine guns
mounted on police vehicles around the village and began to demolish
hundreds of homes with bulldozers. Concurrently, many members of
the resident committee were arrested, three people suffered gunshot
wounds, one child was killed, and one person was severely beaten,
ending up with a broken leg. Later reports indicated the death of
three persons.

------------------
UNMIS Action Taken
------------------

8. D/SRSG HC called two senior GNU officials:
Kosti Manibe, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, who claimed to have
no information on the incident, and the Human Rights Commissioner.
(Comment: It is worth noting that the majority of the squatters are
Darfurians. End comment.) D/SRSG HC will report to the UN
Secretary General and expects him to engage the GNU. He was asking

SIPDIS
the international community to use contacts within the GNU and the
Wali (Governor) of El Gezira State to call attention to the human
rights violations and pressure the GNU to cease the eviction
activities.

9. Action requested: Post requests instructions and talking points
to present an appropriate demarche to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs.


KHARTOUM 00001961 002.2 OF 002


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