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Cablegate: Malakal Update: Ceasefire Holding

VZCZCXRO4286
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2772/01 3351906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011906Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5445
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 002772

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MOPS CASC EAID SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: Malakal Update: Ceasefire Holding

REF: Khartoum 02765

1. (U) Summary: A ceasefire in Malakal between the Sudan Armed
Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) appears
to have held through December 1, although sporadic gunfire and
looting continues. UN agencies and NGOs are providing initial
humanitarian assistance, including assisting the wounded and burying
the dead. Initial estimates by aid workers in Malakal project
roughly 250 civilian and military deaths from violence that erupted
November 27 (reftel). The UN estimates that 300-400 civilians were
wounded. End summary.

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Ceasefire Holding
-----------------

2. (U) The ceasefire agreement, brokered on November 29 by UNMIS
personnel under the auspices of the Combined Joint Military
Commission (CJMC), a body set up under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA), appears to have ended fighting. The fighting in
Malakal is the most serious between SAF and SPLA units since the CPA
was signed. Under the Malakal ceasefire, the parties agreed to
cease hostilities, permit the local population to return to their
homes, and turn over the bodies of dead combatants to the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for burial.
Subsequent to the agreement, SPLA forces reportedly withdrew to
positions in the southern part of Malakal and the SAF reoccupied
various locations, including its headquarters, which had been
briefly captured by the SPLA.

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Looting, Threats Continue on November 30
----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Though SPLA and SAF units withdrew from the center of
Malakal, other armed elements continued to loot houses and threaten
civilians in residential and commercial areas of the town. A UN
security official based in Juba called the looters "opportunistic"
local militia. Another UN official, speaking from Malakal, says
some SAF soldiers participated in the looting. The CJMC reportedly
ordered that no one would be permitted to bear weapons in Malakal,
and that no more than five persons could gather at any one place.
Despite these orders, there were several reports of looting in
Malakal on November 30, including specific accounts of the targeting
of males believed to be supporters of the SPLA, beatings and
shootings of women and children, firing into the air, and threats
against persons who objected to the looting. A group of
approximately 100 SAF soldiers reportedly attempted to return to the
SAF barracks, but was interdicted by the SPLA. UNMIS officers
intervened, and UNMIS troops escorted the SAF forces back to their
barracks.

-------------------------------------------
Deaths, Woundings Estimated in the Hundreds
-------------------------------------------

4. (U) Tallying the number of dead and injured in Malakal remained
impossible as of December 1 due to insecurity. Some of the
estimated 300-400 civilians injured, according to humanitarian
workers, were still unable to reach medical assistance because of
ongoing instability. One senior UN official, who requested
anonymity, estimated the total civilian and military death toll at
250.

5. (SBU) UN sources confirmed that SAF had requested assistance in
burying casualties formally on November 30. According to the same
sources, the SAF lost a total of 30-35 soldiers, including 4 senior
officers. A senior SPLA official told Consulate General Juba
officers on November 30 the SPLA had yet to determine its losses.
However, reports from humanitarian workers in Malakal suggested the
SPLA had lost at least 11 soldiers. On the night of November 30,
the ICRC transported eight SPLA bodies to the SPLA barracks south of
Malakal. Another three SPLA bodies reportedly remained at the SAF
barracks.

6. (SBU) A senior SPLA official advised Consulate General Juba
officers that 57 wounded SPLA soldiers had been evacuated to Yei in
Western Equatoria. Another 91 SPLA casualties, according to UN
sources, were evacuated to Khorflus.

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UN Announces Assistance Efforts Underway
----------------------------------------

7. (U) On November 30, the UN Office of the Deputy Resident and
Humanitarian Coordinator in Khartoum announced that the UN had begun
delivering medical assistance to the estimated 300-400 civilians
injured during the two days of violence in Malakal. The UN is
working to provide food, water, and shelter materials to those who
fled to escape the fighting. Humanitarian teams are assessing
civilian casualties, infrastructure damage, and he availability of

KHARTOUM 00002772 002 OF 002


food, water, and medical supplies for ongoing assistance.

8. (U) The Malakal Teaching Hospital sent out an urgent request on
November 30 for assistance, including nursing support; ambulances,
fuel, and ambulance spare parts; blankets and mattresses; and
medications. Some of the requested material was delivered via a UN
support flight on December 1.

HUME

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