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Cablegate: Darfur - Contingency Planning

VZCZCXRO6041
PP RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2167/01 2530755
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100755Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4459
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 002167

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: ASEC EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - CONTINGENCY PLANNING


KHARTOUM 00002167 001.2 OF 002


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Summary
-------

1. In July and August, insecurity for humanitarian actors has
increased causing USAID to engage non-governmental organization
(NGO) and UN partners in discussions on their plans to continue to
implement USAID-funded programs and evacuate staff under
deteriorating security conditions. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- -
USAID Organizes Contingency Planning Workshops
--------------------------------------------- -

2. On August 28, USAID held contingency planning meetings in
Khartoum with NGO and UN agencies followed by field-level meetings
in El Fasher, North Darfur. The following organizations
participated in the contingency planning workshops: the UN Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN World Food
Program, the UN Joint Logistics Centre, the UN Children's Fund,
CARE, Relief International, International Rescue Committee, CHF
International, Development Alternatives, Inc., and GOAL.

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-------------------
Summary of Findings
-------------------

3. In the meetings, both UN agencies and NGOs affirmed that
contingency and evacuation plans already existed, and stated that
they were reviewing plans in light of the current security situation
in Darfur. UN agencies and NGOs have well trained and competent
Sudanese staff working in Khartoum and in Darfur. Khartoum-based
and El Fasher-based staff generally agreed that they would have the
ability to continue humanitarian work using their Sudanese staff.
Some NGOs expressed concern that if all NGOs were to withdraw their
expatriate staff from North Darfur, Sudanese staff would face
harassment, intimidation, and may even be prevented from working
with the affected populations. Many USAID-supported NGO projects
are community-based and can easily be transferred to communities
given the strong relationships and capacity already built, which is
a strength for USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
(USAID/OFDA) programs in Darfur. Additionally, NGOs stressed the
importance of donor diversification in order to mitigate funding
uncertainties and achieve better program flexibility.

4. Lack of adequate communications equipment for many NGOs and
inconsistency of the communications network and notification system
leaves USAID partners vulnerable. NGOs and UN agencies reported
that their relationships with the UN Department of Safety and
Security are based on personal contacts rather than
institutionalized systems, which is a matter of concern for USAID.
An additional concern is that the high turnover of staff compounded
by the tendency to deploy first-tour staff without experience in
complex emergencies leaves a vacuum of leadership and experience on
the ground and contributes to organizational and personal
vulnerability. Evacuation plans exist, but only one agency noted
that it had practiced it. NGOs with protection programs noted that
these programs increase their vulnerability due to the sensitive
nature of their work.

5. USAID partners strongly recommended maximum flexibility across
regions and sectors in future awards to ensure they can adjust
rapidly to changing conditions. NGOs and UN agencies see their
strong relationships with USAID as an asset and highlighted the
benefit of USAID/OFDA's field-based presence. The institutional
memory of USAID/OFDA has improved with the deployment of long-term
staff to North Darfur, but it was also mentioned that the past high
turnover of staff was a drain on the relationships with implementing
partners. USAID partners noted that the operational mechanisms of
USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) with local
partners and the small-grants program are an asset in dealing with
the volatility in North Darfur. UN agencies and NGOs expressed that
funding uncertainty is a major constraint.

--------
Concerns
--------

6. USAID is concerned that if NGOs evacuate Sudan, their
re-admittance by the Government of National Unity (GNU) is unlikely.
Additionally, if NGOs evacuate, many of the gains made in Darfur
over the past two years may be lost and there will be no

KHARTOUM 00002167 002.2 OF 002


international witnesses to subsequent events.

7. USAID staff and partners share concern that the UN Security
Council resolution 1706 will have short and long-term ramifications
for the humanitarian space in Darfur.

-----------------
Follow-Up Actions
-----------------

8. The USAID Darfur Field Office (USAID/DFO) is compiling a report
and will distribute the results from the North Darfur contingency
planning meetings to all of the contributing organizations. USAID
has also asked NGOs to submit solutions to mitigate their
organization's vulnerabilities.

9. The USAID/DFO intends to replicate the planning process for
South and West Darfur in September.

10. USAID's goal is to have comprehensive strategies prepared by
NGO and UN partners to address beneficiary needs and provide
humanitarian services in all of these three scenarios: status quo,
evacuation to El Fasher, or evacuation to Khartoum. The USAID staff
in the field will continue to monitor the security situation in all
three Darfur states, as well as work with the implementing partners
to assist them in developing strategies to maximize their capacity
to conduct life-saving humanitarian services under changing security
situations.

HUME

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