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Cablegate: Somalia Humanitarian Situation Update

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #4868/01 3191409
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151409Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5483
INFO RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 4853
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 8930
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 4445
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1746
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4051
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2059
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 5039
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 1378
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS NAIROBI 004868

SIPDIS

AIDAC

USAID/W DCHA, MHESS; WGARVELINK, LROGERS
USAID/W DCHA/OFDA, GGOTTLIEB; AFERARO; ACONVERY;
CGOTTSCHALK; KCHANNELL, ATRACY; NCLARK; LPOWERS; PMORRIS
USAID/W DCHA/FFP, WHAMMINK; JDWORKEN; TANDERSON;
SGILBERT; PBALAKRISHNAN
USAID/W DCHA/DG, LFEINBERG; DLOCKETT
USAID/W DCHA/CMM, JSINGH
USAID/W AFR/A/AA, KALMQUIST
USAID/W DCHA/OTI, RJENKINS
USAID/NAIROBI REDSO/FFP, NESTES
OFDA/ECARO, JMYER; GPLATT
USAID/ROME, RNEWBERG
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
STATE FOR PRM/AFR

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS:

SUBJECT: SOMALIA HUMANITARIAN SITUATION UPDATE


SUMMARY

1. South central region of Somalia is the most unstable
area of the country where insecurity exists primarily
due to interclan fighting, tensions brought about by the
spread of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), and the
ineffective governance of the Transitional Federal
Government (TFG).

2. While the current short rains are essentially ending
the multiyear drought, recovery and rehabilitation
activities in the south central region are being
hampered by ongoing insecurity and fighting between UIC
and TFG, resulting in internal displacement and
migration of populations across regional borders.
Localized flooding is also impeding critical farming
activities in Juba and Shabelle valleys. While access
to vulnerable populations in UIC controlled areas by
humanitarian stakeholders has improved, registration
requirements for NGOs by the newly formed UIC Department
of Planning and Development may soon impede NGO
operations in UIC held regions. END SUMMARY

BACKGROUND

3. The south central region of Somalia was severely
affected by the recent drought that was felt throughout
the Horn of Africa in 2005 and 2006. More than 1.1
million pastoralists and agro pastoralists in southern
and central Somalia experienced an acute food and
livelihood crisis and humanitarian emergency brought
about by three consecutive failed rainy seasons and
ongoing civil insecurity that resulted in crop failure,
extensive livestock death, high food prices, abnormal
population movement and extreme shortages of and limited
access to water and food.

4. The lack of a functioning central government, civil
strife, inter-clan conflicts, and confrontations between
Somali warlords and militias associated with the UIC,
further complicated the humanitarian situation and
limited access to affected areas.

5. In response to the Somalia drought, the United
States Government provided more than 91 million dollars
in humanitarian assistance comprising food donations and
distribution as well as emergency water, health,
nutrition and livelihood support interventions
facilitated by UN agencies and non-government
organizations (NGOs).

GOOD SEASONAL RAINFALL BUT-

6. According to Famine Early Warning Systems Network
(FEWSNET), heavy rains are ongoing throughout most
regions of Somalia, with the heaviest reported in Juba
and Shabelle valleys, Gedo, Bay and Hiran Regions in
southern Somalia with less rainfall in central Somalia
and the northern regions.

7. Some districts in southern Somalia are experiencing
torrential rains with flash flooding. Due to heavy
rains in the upper catchments of the Ethiopian
highlands, downstream flooding has been reported in the
riverine areas of Gedo, Juba and Shabelle valleys. This
flooding has resulted in population displacement, crop
damage and destruction of infrastructure in several
districts including areas around Mogadishu. In Lower
and Middle Shabelle Regions, about 2000 hectares of
maize and sorghum crops were destroyed by cresting of
the Shabelle River according to FSAU.

8. While the rains have wrought havoc on agricultural
districts, a more positive impact is being felt in
pastoralists regions with pasture and browse
regeneration and replenished aquifers. UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is
monitoring the situation and since the rains are
expected to continue through November, a comprehensive
flood impact assessment on crop production is premature
at this time, however, OCHA is coordinating a multi-
agency assessment of the impact of the floods on the
humanitarian situation in Gedo Region, so far the worst
affected region.

FOOD INSECURITY AND MALNUTRITION - A SLOW RECOVERY

9. Food security and livelihood conditions are
improving in the northeast and northwest regions of
Somalia, however, the recent drought and food insecurity
in the south central regions continues to impact on
children under five as evidenced by high global acute
malnutrition (GAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM)
rates above internationally accepted norms.

10. Action Contra Faim (ACF) conducted a nutrition
survey in Wajid District of Bakool Region in July 2006
and found very high global and severe acute malnutrition
rates of 33.5 and 5.4 percent respectively. Since this
study was conducted just prior to the main harvest, ACF
will facilitate another survey later this year to
monitor trends. ACF is implementing community
therapeutic care (CTC) feeding programs in the district
and also providing a general food ration for families of
malnourished children. ACF is also conducting nutrition
education sessions and promoting kitchen gardens for
beneficiaries of their feeding programs.

11. International Medical Corps (IMC) is also scaling
up supplemental and therapeutic feeding programs in Bay
and Bakool Regions and report unusually high numbers of
feeding program beneficiaries for this time of year,
another indication that drought recovery is progressing
slowly.

INSECURITY AND ITS IMPACT

12. In the last several months there has been increased
population displacement within Somalia and across
regional borders due to skirmishes between local, TFG
backed, and UIC militias. The UIC has expanded into
Lower and Middle Juba and Hiran Regions in the south and
Galgadud and Mudug Regions in central Somalia. While
the areas under the control of UIC have experienced
improved security, fear of outright "war" between the
TFG, UIC, local militias and external actors continues
to spur population movement.

13. Most of the first wave of Somalia refugees seeking
safe haven in Kenya were minority clans and Bantus who
have no widespread clan support and whose economic
livelihoods are most at risk during times of insecurity.
Many of these early refugees were khat sellers, petty
traders, casual laborers and charcoal venders in urban
settings and subsistence farmers from riverine districts
who lacked access to clan support in times of economic
stress. More recent arrivals are said to be from middle
classes and may be seeking refuge in camps to await
asylum in other countries. Many refugees interviewed by
various assessment teams report fear of lifestyle
restrictions by the UIC.

14. According to UN High Commission for Refugees
(UNHCR), about 3000 people crossed the border into Kenya
in August and while 6,200 and 7,000 crossed the border
into Kenya in September and October. The refugees are
mainly coming from Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa, Buale,
and Doble in southern Somalia. Since January of 2006,
UNHCR estimates that about 37,000 Somalis entered Kenya
seeking refuge, swelling the northeastern Kenya Dadaab
refugee camp population from about 127,000 to
approximately 160,000, with an estimated 10,000
additional refugees waiting to be registered and
processed.

15. Insecurity and tension in southern Somalia has also
impeded progress of several US Agency for International
Development, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
(USAID OFDA) implementing partners operating in Middle
Juba and Bay Region. Adventist Development and Relief
Agency (ADRA) and IMC working in Dinsor District and
World Concern in Jilib District report slow progress in
program implementation due to frequent evacuations of
international staff and disruption of program activities
due to insecurity. Squabbling between local actors in
TFG held territory is also negatively impacting drought
recovery efforts with some clan cartels seeking control
of NGO resources such as vehicle and office rental,
staff hiring and procurement tenders. While the TFG is
in control in Bay and Bakool Regions, NGOs report that
local sentiment is turning in favor of the UIC, citing
community dissatisfaction with the TFGs failure to
deliver basic social services and lack of leadership.

16. NGOs operational in Bakool and Hiran Region and in
Mogadishu report business as usual, movement in and
around Mogadishu has much improved with UIC eliminating
banditry and other forms of insecurity within the city.
NGOs operational in areas near the Ethiopian border in
Bakool and Hiran Regions report stable security
conditions at this time.

17. FSAU reports that if widespread conflict was to
occur, the impact on the humanitarian situation in south
and central regions would be severe, doubling the 1.8
million people currently needing humanitarian assistance
in Somalia.

OLD CASELOAD IDPS - "ONCE AN IDP, ALWAYS AN IDP"

18. Now that access to Mogadishu has improved for
international NGOs, a number of agencies have entered
the city to conduct assessments of the humanitarian
situation of the general population and internally
displaced persons (IDPs). United Nations Childrens Fund
(UNICEF) and FSAU estimate that Mogadishu has about
250,000 IDPs in about 400 camp sites, who are living in
abysmal conditions throughout the city. IMCs recent
assessment in Mogadishu reports most IDPs have been
living in the camps and abandoned government buildings
and compounds in the city center since the early 1990s.

19. IDP camp population is mainly women, children and
elderly. The male IDP population engages in petty trade
or work as porters in the main markets and as casual
laborers on construction sites. Bantu men return to
their areas of origin to engage in farming activities
until after harvest. IDP camps are divided along clan
lines, mostly Bantu and other minorities.

20. Prior to the takeover of Mogadishu by the UIC,
minimal basic services were provided by UN agencies,
international and local NGOs, and well as a number of
Islamic relief and development groups. Reintegration of
Mogadishu IDPs into general society was never an option
due to lack of a strong local administration and long-
standing resistance by majority clans.

21. Since the takeover of the capital by the UIC, the
general security situation in the city and IDP camps has
improved with increased access to the camps by
additional aid agencies. IDP committees are being
formed in the camps and they are aggressively seeking
widespread assistance and support from the UIC and aid
agencies. IDPs report significantly less
discrimination, harassment, and sexual abuse since the
collapse of the militias and local gangs and takeover of
the city by the UIC. IDPs highlight ongoing priority
needs as food, new shelter, sanitation, income
generation activities, education and reintegration.

UIC CLAMPING DOWN

22. Local and international NGOs operating in UIC held
districts are currently negotiating with the UIC on
issues related to registration and operating permits, a
situation that many NGOs fear could result in
operational restrictions and various taxations. In mid
October, the Planning and Development Office of the UIC
sent notice to the NGO community that all local and
international NGOs must register with the UIC in
Mogadishu by November 5, 2006. The UIC also required
NGOs to purchase their registration applications and
file NGO profiles and operating plans. If registered,
NGOs would be required to pay a registration of fee of
250 dollars for local groups and 500 dollars for
international agencies. On payment of registration
fees, the NGO would have to purchase their operational
certificates, again for a fee. The UIC is also
requiring NGOs to pay an annual fee for vehicles and
guard's weapons.

23. Additional conditions of NGOs were listed in the
notice such as submission of work plans that must be
approved by the UIC, as well as restricting from
participating in anti Islamic or political activities.

24. The Nairobi-based NGO Consortium formed a task
force to negotiate with the UIC. Mogadishu based members
of the task force met with the UIC in Mogadishu on
November 5, 2006. The UIC extended the deadline for NGO
registration to November 20, 2006 and refused to allow
the NGOs to register from Nairobi or other UIC held
districts in Somalia, requiring all to present
representatives in Mogadishu for the screening process.
The UIC is now imposing visa requirements for entry to
Somalia. The NGO Consortium is drafting a comprehensive
response to the UIC demands and six NGO representatives
plan to meet the Planning and Development Committee in
Mogadishu next week. The NGO community is seeking
clarification on a number of issues, not just payment of
fees.

25. As of now the UIC is showing willingness to
negotiate with the NGO community however, a number of
agencies fear the UIC sees the NGO community as resource
rich, wishing to manipulate vehicle and office rental,
procurement, impose taxes and direct program
interventions.

CONCLUSIONS

26. UN agencies, NGOs, and donor agencies are preparing
contingency plans in the event of further deterioration
of security and its impact on vulnerable populations in
Somalia and neighboring countries. UNOCHA is also
conducting a best case worst case scenario workshop for
the Horn of Africa in Nairobi on November 20, 2006.

27. USAID/OFDA regional officers will continue to
monitor the humanitarian situation and continue to
report on drought recovery efforts as well as climate
and security conditions that impact the humanitarian
situation.

RANNEBERGER

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