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Cablegate: Eu Asks Ethiopia to Allow Humanitarian Access

VZCZCXRO6952
RR RUEHRN
DE RUEHBS #2424 2121328
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311328Z JUL 07
FM USEU BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

UNCLAS BRUSSELS 002424

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID PHUM PREL ET EUN
SUBJECT: EU ASKS ETHIOPIA TO ALLOW HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

REF: STATE 102381

1. (U) Summary: The European Commission's Office for
Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) is very concerned about the
deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Ogaden region and
has asked the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) to allow movement
of humanitarian workers and food aid immediately, officials
said. The European Commission delegation in Addis has
delivered the message, but Commissioner for Development and
Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel is considering weighing in at
the highest level soon, contacts said. End summary.

2. (U) USAID Humanitarian Advisor and PRM Officer delivered
reftel points July 30 and 31 to Cees Wittebrood, Head of Unit
for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries at ECHO, and two
officials at the European Commission's Directorate General
for Development: Jeremy Lester, Head of Unit for the Horn of
Africa, and Maria-Paola Piazzardi, Desk Officer for Ethiopia.
Wittebrood said the European Union (EU) has delivered a
message to GOE officials through its Delegation in Addis that
the EU views restrictions on the movement of humanitarian and
food aid in the Ogaden to be in violation of international
law and it expects the GOE to change its policies
immediately. The EC's Head of Delegation has spoken with
senior GOE officials and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Wittebrood said. At the working level, ECHO's representative
in Addis has been relaying concerns over the Ogaden to UN
agencies, NGOs, and the donor community, he said.

3. (SBU) USEU officers were told Commissioner for Development
and Humanitarian Aid Michel is aware of the Ogaden problems
and keen to raise the issue with GOE counterparts, but has
not done so to date for fear that his engagement on Ogaden
will derail ongoing negotiations with the GOE on the release
of political prisoners. Michel plans to raise the Ogaden
concerns when he believes the time is right, Wittebrood said.
ECHO is not optimistic about the Ogaden. It plans to
continue to follow the situation on the ground through the
EC's delegation in Addis, and will re-examine its approach
should new developments occur. ECHO requested future USG
updates on Ogaden-related planning and programming.

4. (U) Jeremy Lester, Head of Unit for the Horn of Africa at
EC's DG Development, said his office is aware of the
restrictions on humanitarian deliveries in the Ogaden and is
watching it closely. DG Development has not formally
approached the GOE. Lester was not aware of the restrictions
on commercial traffic and on the movement of pastoralists,
but said it fits a pattern of control that the EU has
observed in the Ogaden. In occasional meetings with people
from the Ogaden, the Commission often hears complaints about
restrictions on journalists and lack of access to health
services and education. Lester noted the GOE considers the
Ogaden residents as Somalis, rather than Ethiopians, which
exacerbates the problems.

5. (U) USEU will continue to exchange information with ECHO
and DG Development and report back any new initiatives.
MURRAY
.

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