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Cablegate: Darfur - Visit of the Usaid-Ofda Deputy Director

VZCZCXRO7391
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2863/01 3520745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180745Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5579
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 002863

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND TSHORTLEY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SU AU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - VISIT OF THE USAID-OFDA DEPUTY DIRECTOR


KHARTOUM 00002863 001.2 OF 003


-------------------
SUMMARY AND COMMENT
-------------------

1. From November 30 to December 2, USAID Office of U.S. Foreign
Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) Deputy Director Greg Gottlieb and a
team of USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian
Assistance (USAID/DCHA) field staff visited Nyala, South Darfur, to
assess humanitarian conditions and gain a better understanding of
the situation on the ground. The USAID/DCHA team included the
USAID/DCHA Senior Humanitarian Advisor, the USAID Darfur Field
Office (DFO) Team Leader, the DFO Field Officer for Nyala, and the
USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) Darfur Program
Manager. In Nyala, the USAID/DCHA team met with South Darfur State
Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) representatives, the UN Mission in
Sudan (UNMIS), the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), the
African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), the UN Development Program
(UNDP), and USAID/OFDA partners. The team also visited USAID/OFDA
programs at Otash, Kalma, and Gereida internally displaced person
(IDP) camps.

2. The situation for IDPs in Darfur is growing more precarious.
USAID non-governmental organization (NGO) and UN partners face
rising insecurity as the various armed groups fight across a large
area, with civilians and their villages bearing the brunt of the
fighting. The Government of National Unity (GNU) continues to
impose unreasonable restrictions and regulations on humanitarian
organizations. Considering the violence and bureaucratic
harassment, it is remarkable that relief agencies continue to
deliver assistance at reasonable levels to an ever-increasing number
of IDPs and affected communities. End summary and comment.

---------
HAC-NEYED
---------

3. Upon arrival in Nyala, the USAID/DCHA team met with Jamal
Youseff, the HAC Secretary General for South Darfur. Youseff
expressed appreciation for USAID's support and assistance, but noted
that more assistance was necessary in the sectors of health, water,
sanitation, and hygiene. Youseff stressed that donors need to
provide more assistance outside of IDP camps in order to encourage
IDPs to return to their areas of origin. He noted that many IDPs in
camps enjoy health services that were not available in their places
of origin, and that IDPs were reluctant to do without these services
in the future. Youseff believes humanitarian assistance is keeping
people in camps unnecessarily and that the international community
should initiate a process of assisted returns, adding that security
improvements would allow for such action.

4. Youseff told the USAID/DCHA team that the HAC would do
everything possible to assist with the humanitarian efforts in South
Darfur, but expressed concern that international NGOs were enriching
themselves with donor funds instead of using the funds to assist
those in need.

5. USAID in turn requested that the HAC lessen its restrictions on
NGOs to facilitate assistance, instead of imposing unreasonable and
constantly changing regulations. (Comment: The meeting followed
the expected script with HAC personnel. The team expected little
except platitudes, and received exactly that. End comment.)

--------------------------------------------
SPIRALING INSECURITY THREATENS AID OPERATION
--------------------------------------------

6. While in Nyala, the USAID/DCHA team met with UNMIS, AMIS, UNDSS,
and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA). Each organization offered information on the security
situation, and provided the team a better understanding of the
political and military dynamics at play in Darfur.

7. The security situation in Darfur remains volatile. Continued
splintering is occurring within opposition factions, driven by
government action. As a result, humanitarian workers have relocated
from different areas in North and South Darfur. Those who briefed
the USAID/DCHA team anticipate that the conflict will continue to
deepen over the coming three to four months, leading to more
displacement and increased fighting between factions. The briefers
indicated that the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) is insufficient to
bring peace to Darfur, as the DPA does not include all those whom
the factions represent.

KHARTOUM 00002863 002.2 OF 003

8. The month of November brought worsening security in Darfur, with
significant humanitarian consequences for the wider region,
including Chad and the Central African Republic. More than 80,000
people have fled their homes in the last six weeks alone: 50,000 of
them in Darfur and 30,000 in Chad. Several hundred civilians,
including women, children, and elderly, have been killed, and very
disturbing reports have surfaced describing mass rapes and other
gross violations of human rights. Escalating violence is cutting
off almost one million people across Darfur from needed humanitarian
aid. Recent clashes involving Arab militia, the Sudan Liberation
Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/Minawi), the National Redemption Front (NRF),
and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have forced the relocation of UN
and NGO staff. Relief workers are being attacked on a daily basis,
and dozens of their vehicles have been hijacked in the last few
weeks, threatening the humanitarian lifeline for a total of 4.3
million people in the region.

9. The USAID/DCHA team and representatives from Merlin, the
American Refugee Committee (ARC), and OCHA traveled to Gereida,
South Darfur, via UN helicopter. In 2006, the site became Darfur's
largest IDP camp by population. Based on the current food
distribution caseload, the humanitarian community estimates the
number of IDPs in Gereida to be 128,000, although many believe this
number is inflated.

10. The IDP settlement is divided into three sections named Aleef
(old camp), Babanousa (new camp), and Dar es Salam. Seven
international NGOs work in Gereida: Oxfam, ZOA, the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), ARC, Merlin, Action Contre la
Faim, and CHF International. USAID/OFDA is funding Merlin for
health activities, ARC for health, water, sanitation, and hygiene
activities, and CHF International for shelter activities.

11. Upon arrival at Gereida, the team met with the AMIS Group Site
Commander, who gave a briefing about the site and shared
observations about security for IDPs. The AMIS commander noted that
the AMIS area of responsibility was very large and that patrols were
unable to cover the same areas in the camp two days in a row. AMIS
stated that it currently lacks the capacity and resources to
undertake patrols to protect the population from roving Arab militia
outside Gereida. The threat of Arab militia attack is especially
heightened for women, who are responsible for collecting firewood
outside the camp. AMIS reported incidents of skirmishes,
abductions, animal looting, and thefts by armed men. The AMIS
commander stated that it was difficult to distinguish between Arab
militia and bandits in the camp.

12. The team visited an ICRC health center, which is scheduled to
be transferred to USAID/OFDA partner Merlin at the end of 2006.
Current humanitarian planning focuses on increasing capacity in
sectors such as health, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Additionally, USAID/OFDA partner CHF International is considering
expanding shelter coverage.

13. Currently no organization coordinates humanitarian activity for
the camp. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) was tapped to take
over as camp coordinator for Gereida, but the organization's
withdrawal from South Darfur has left Gereida without a coordinator.
Several NGOs working in Gereida told the USAID/DCHA team that a
camp coordinator was unnecessary. However, they stated that a camp
manager was needed to help with contingency planning as
circumstances change.

14. Coordination between NGOs in Gereida is working well. If and
when more organizations are present in Gereida, this issue may need
to be revisited and a camp coordinator identified. OCHA shared
plans to send an officer to work part-time with groups in Gereida
and help deal with local authorities. (Comment: Camp coordination
is important to identify critical gaps in humanitarian coverage and
conduct effective protection activities. However, organizations are
reluctant to take on the role, as the SLA or GNU can intimidate or
harass an NGO serving as camp coordinator for advocacy related to
sensitive issues, reducing the organization's ability to operate.
End comment.)

15. While in Gereida, the USAID/DCHA team met with the SLA's
Humanitarian Aid Commissioner (SLA/HAC). The SLA sees itself as the
protective force for the population. The biggest concern for the
SLA/HAC was the perceived minimal level of assistance coming into
Gereida. The SLA/HAC would like to see at least 40 NGOs working in
Gereida providing a range of services, particularly food, education,

KHARTOUM 00002863 003.2 OF 003


and health.

----------------------------------
WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER - ALONE
----------------------------------

16. In discussions with the NGO community, the USAID/DCHA team
noted the lack of coordination, or the reluctance among various
organizations to fully collaborate and cooperate in South Darfur.
In light of the ever-growing list of demands and requirements that
the GNU places on NGOs, it was interesting to see how NGOs have
approached the issue of coordination in the state.

17. NGOs mentioned to the USAID/DCHA team that true coordination
was difficult, and in some cases, not wise for an organization's
survival. An "every man for himself" approach seems to work best
for the NGOs in South Darfur. If the HAC is harassing one NGO, it
is not in the best interest of the other NGOs to take a united
approach, or stand against the HAC, lest they all be penalized.
OCHA plays a vital role in taking up some of the more sensitive
issues on behalf of the NGOs, but fails in the effort to unify NGOs
in response to HAC demands or insecurity in areas of common
operations.

---------------
RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------

18. USAID/OFDA should consider establishing a rapid-response fund
with OCHA, as done in Liberia and Angola. The rapid-response fund
would allow USAID/OFDA and the humanitarian community the
flexibility to quickly address humanitarian needs during this
tumultuous period in Darfur. Additionally, when and if returns
begin, the fund would allow rapid start-up activities supporting the
return process in anticipation of accessing other funding
mechanisms. The structure of the response fund and the approval
process would be based on the Liberia model, in which a USAID/OFDA
representative and the grant manager from OCHA reviewed proposals
and made funding decisions on the ground.

19. USAID/OFDA, along with other donors, should support a
verification exercise in IDP camps where substantial inflation of
camp population figures is suspected, such as Gereida. OCHA agreed
that counting IDPs in possible, if donors are willing to support it.
The USAID/DCHA team believes this would be a worthwhile exercise to
give the humanitarian community a better idea of the total number of
the affected population and adjust the caseload for assistance.
Caution would have to be taken to prevent the HAC from hijacking the
exercise to influence IDPs to "voluntarily" return home.

20. USAID/OFDA, along with other donors, should support more
livelihoods and shelter activities in Gereida, particularly for the
town population, as IDPs are living on the host community's
agricultural land.

HUME

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