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Cablegate: Sudan - Blue Nile State Situation Report

VZCZCXRO9897
PP RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2507/01 2890750
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160750Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4945
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 002507

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 KDEM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - BLUE NILE STATE SITUATION REPORT

REF: KHARTOUM 1369

KHARTOUM 00002507 001.2 OF 003


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Summary
-------

1. On July 20, USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI)
staff traveled through southern Blue Nile State. The team assessed
the progress of the USAID-funded Farmer-Nomad Peace Conference, the
status of local government capacity, transfer of authority to local
levels, and potential areas of conflict within governance
structures. USAID reported progress in adapting local governance
procedures in accordance with the stipulations of the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA). However, ambiguities in the Blue Nile State
constitution, administrative policies and procedures, as well as a
lack of sufficient capacity among the local government threaten to
slow this progress. After the rainy season ending in October,
thousands of returnees are expected to arrive in Keili, Yaboos, and
other areas. Currently, USAID is planning projects to provide basic
services for returnees in these areas. End summary.

-----------------------------
Farmer-Nomad Peace Conference
-----------------------------

2. Per reftel, the Farmer-Nomad Peace Conference has produced
agreement between traditional leaders and county and payam
government officials on policies to open key migration routes for
nomadic groups. In recent months, conflict has emerged over
seasonal migration routes in Blue Nile State.

3. According to the Commissioner of Kurmuk County, traditional
leaders in the conference agreed to five prerequisites on the
opening of migration routes: 1) the integration of the Sudan
People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF);
2) the integration of Sudanese government and Sudan People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM) police units; 3) disarmament of
individual nomads and farmers, who do not belong to the integrated
army or police forces; 4) demining of southern Blue Nile State; 5)
return and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
These agreements mark notable progress in resolving the core issues
between farmers and nomads.

---------
Returnees
---------

4. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) Protection Officer in Kurmuk, most of the returnees in Blue
Nile State have resettled around Yaboos and Keili towns.

5. According to the umda (traditional leader), 8,400 refugees from
Keili fled to Ethiopia during the civil war, of which approximately
2,400 spontaneously returned in May, June, and July 2006. According
to a report by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), this return
was prompted by a fire that broke out in Sherkole camp, located in
Ethiopia near the border with Blue Nile State.

6. After arriving in the Keili area, many returnees from Sherkole
camp find themselves without access to safe drinking water,
education, or healthcare. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
report that most returnees are currently living in relatives' homes.
The umda reported that Turnase, Mayas, and Balaro towns may
experience a strain on resources as returnees have begun to settle
there. Reportedly, returnees need food, bedding, and cooking
utensils. USAID forwarded this information to the UN World Food
Program (WFP) and UNHCR for appropriate action.

7. According to local NGOs and UNHCR, returnees from Bonga camp,
located in Ethiopia across the border from Upper Nile State, arrived
in Chali town near Yaboos in Blue Nile State, where limited basic
services had been set up. However, the villages surrounding Chali
have even less services than those in the town due to a slow start
to demining the area. Therefore, many returnees remain in Chali
waiting for conditions to improve before proceeding to their final
settlement communities in the villages.

8. Returnees from the Bonga and Sherkole camps are accustomed to
standard basic services. According to IRC and UNHCR reports in 2003
and 2005 respectively, families in Sherkole camp lived in tukuls
(traditional housing) and received monthly food rations.
Additionally, the reports show that 69 percent of school-age

KHARTOUM 00002507 002.2 OF 003


refugees attended school in 2005, four out of seven families had pit
latrines, and the camps had more than one waste disposal drop hole
for every 20 people. Preschools, primary schools, teacher training,
and adult literacy and numeracy programs were available to the
refugees.

9. According to returnees and traditional leaders, both returnees
and the local populations expect basic services from the government
as peace dividends and have expressed that continued delays could
undermine the legitimacy of the government in the eyes of its
citizens. Residents of Blue Nile State commented that people are
frustrated at the lack of visible results of peace, especially
following the signing of the CPA. (Comment: As a result of the
state's location at the dividing line of the civil war and its
current integrated government status, the state is considered a
testing ground for the success of the CPA. End Comment.)

-----------------------
Local Governance Issues
-----------------------

10. The concept of "popular consultation" (Article 3 of the Protocol
on the Resolution of Conflict in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile
States) is not well defined. Reportedly, most people still believe
that the CPA includes a referendum for them to decide if they remain
part of the north or are integrated into Southern Sudan in the event
that the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) becomes independent.
While a referendum is a direct vote by the population, popular
consultation will only allow the public to express their opinions on
the protocol and is not intended to decide on possible independence.
Clarification of this process for the local population is essential
and the timing of this information must be carefully considered.

11. The issue of whether Arabic, English, or a combination of both
languages will be taught in public schools remains unresolved.
According to the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SRRC)
and local NGOs, the local population in former SPLA-controlled areas
prefers to be educated in English. However, since Blue Nile State
is administratively part of the Government of National Unity (GNU),
the Sudanese government is proceeding with the standardization of
the entire state to the national educational curriculum, which is
taught in Arabic. This issue is expected to be an ongoing source of
tension.

12. The Chief Judge for Kurmuk County, payam administrators, and
traditional leaders reported that traditional and official local
leaders have distinct roles in settling local disputes. Traditional
leaders act as judges and administrators handle interactions between
the community and the county government. In 1997, the umdas elected
a representative to serve as the Chief Judge for Kurmuk County. The
representative explained to USAID that in the future a Sudanese
government judge will assume the position of Chief Judge, at which
time the umda will resume his traditional role.

13. Progress has been made in integrating the local government in
Kurmuk in accordance with the guidelines of the CPA. Article 11
Section 1.1 of the Protocol on the Resolution of Conflict in
Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States specifies 45/55 power-sharing
percentages for government staff. The Executive Director of Kurmuk
County, a member of the National Congress Party (NCP), arrived from
the formerly SAF-controlled state capital, Ed Damazin, the week of
July 10. The Executive Director will work under the Kurmuk County
Commissioner, a member of the SPLM, as part of the power-sharing
agreement. Representatives of the state line ministries in Ed
Damazin are also expected to arrive after the rainy season.

14. Ambiguities in local government administration threaten to
disrupt future progress of CPA implementation. Officials
interviewed by USAID expressed uncertainty about whether the
power-sharing arrangements applied to lower levels of administration
or not. The new Executive Director commented that his support staff
are SPLM-affiliated and do not respect his authority, "severely
limiting" the ability of the office to function. He believes that
without proper administrative policies of authority in place,
disciplinary action against SPLM staff, would lead to conflict. He
expressed reluctance to bring NCP-affiliated staff from Ed Damazin
to Kurmuk because without clarity of the power-sharing arrangements,
the SPLM might view this movement as a "takeover". He also felt
that the SPLM staff lacked the capacity to effectively perform their
duties and needed training.

-----------

KHARTOUM 00002507 003.2 OF 003


Conclusions
-----------

15. Based on this assessment trip to southern Blue Nile State USAID
concludes that:

A) Further support for peace dividends is needed. Activities to
increase access to clean water, health care, and education, are
needed especially around Yaboos and Keili. An assessment to verify
the umdas estimations of returnees and needs in Keili and Yaboos is
also recommended. USAID plans to support GOAL, an international NGO
operating in Sudan, to implement water and health sector projects in
these areas.

B) The county and payam governments need additional support in
providing basic services, training on how to more effectively
allocate resources, and office management skills. USAID/OTI is
considering the provision of a borehole drilling rig, which will be
the only one in the area after January 2007.

C) Although USAID is disseminating the CPA in Sudan, a more
widespread and thorough effort is needed, especially in the Three
Areas.

D) State parliamentarians need support in drafting and passing laws
that better define and resolve major issues and ambiguities in
existing legislation.

HUME

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