Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Flood Relief Press Conference

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1. (U) SUMMARY. On August 8, the AmEmbassy held a press
conference highlighting the U.S. contribution to Sudanese flood
relief. The USG airlifted 1300 rolls of plastic sheeting valued at
over one-half million U.S. dollars that will help provide shelter to
78,000 individuals in flood-affected areas of northern and eastern
Sudan. Following this press conference, there was a broad positive
response in the Sudanese press. Nonetheless, one journalist in the
pro-government "Akhbar Al-Youm," published a scathing commentary
which blames the U.S. for flooding, calls upon the Sudanese
government to return the donation, and states that the "U.S. is
hostile to the third world." END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On August 9, the English language daily newspapers the
"Khartoum Monitor," "The Citizen," and "Sudan Vision" reprinted the
unedited version of the embassy's press release. The "Khartoum
Monitor" included an original photo of the event. (NOTE: The text
of the press release is attached at para 9. END NOTE.)

3. (U) Also on August 9, the independent Arabic daily,
"Al-Soudani," featured two articles on the press conference. One
article with the simple headline "The Charge' d'Affaires," begins
with the CDA's response to a question on the hybrid force, and only
later describes the original purpose of the press conference.
According to the article, the CDA responded to a question about
Sudan's anxiety over funding of the hybrid, saying, "We respect this
anxiety, but the international community is committed to funding
this force to achieve stability and peace in the region." The
article states that the CDA said, "We, from our side, we want to see
tangible progress and a new page for the future." The article then
enters into the details of the flood relief effort, largely quoting
from the press release. In a disconnected fashion, the article ends
by quoting a separate press release from the United Nations on the
composition of the hybrid.

4. (U) The other article in "Al-Soudani" focused only on the CDA's
statements after the press conference on UNSC resolution 1769, the
Arusha conference attended by Darfur rebels, and the alleged denial
of visas to Sudanese parliamentarians who wished to visit Sudanese
nationals currently detained in Guantanamo Bay. This article,
entitled "The Charge' d'Affaires rejects receiving the request for
visas from the parliamentarians," did not mention the flood relief
press conference at which these statements were made. According to
the article, the CDA called upon Darfur rebel groups to join the
upcoming negotiations with the Sudanese government. The article also
reports that the CDA said that "Time is short and it is necessary
for the rebel movements to participate in the meetings."

5. (U) The pro-government, "Al-Rai' Al-Aam" also carried the story
on the press conference on August 9 with the headline "The American
Embassy denies rejecting the parliamentarians' visas." The article
briefly mentions the CDA's complete denial of the visa story, and
then provides details of the flood relief efforts.

6. (U) In contrast to this positive press, in an article in the
pro-government, "Akhbar Al-Youm" on August 11, the head of the
Sudanese Journalists' Union, Muhie Aldin Titaw, called for the
Government of Sudan to reject the flood relief donation from the
U.S. In his regular column entitled "Stances," Titaw writes, "we
say that that we are not in need of relief from this American
administration which is very hostile to us." Continuing, he says,
"[This administration] is the first and last cause for all of the
suffering of the Sudanese people and their political, economic and
security dilemmas. America, and not the American people, is the
main reason for this global warming that has drowned the third world
and part of Europe with rains and floods." Titaw then writes that
America is responsible for the misery of the people of Africa, Asia
and Latin America "because of its idiotic intervention in the
affairs of the whole world." He then praises Sudanese civilization,
its natural resources, and its technological potential, concluding
that "we should not accept any assistance or relief from America or
its allies that are conspiring against us and against our security
and stability."

7. (U) Titaw continues to rail against American foreign policy led
by, as he strangely notes, a "fanatical and extremist Catholic
administration against Islam and Muslims that wants to annihilate
the Muslims wherever they are." He then writes, "We would like to
say to the American Charge' d'Affaires, Mr. Alberto Fernandez-who is
now conducting a public affairs campaign to the benefit of his
country- that we cannot be deceived with his expressions of courtesy
or by sending some decadent food under the guise of relief for the
ill-fated." He then returns to praising the virtue of the Sudanese
people, and ends his piece calling upon the Ministry of Humanitarian
Affairs to return the flood relief donation, and send back to the
U.S. a Sudanese donation to the people of New Orleans and Louisana
and all the victims of Katrina "who are still waiting for relief and
support to return to their normal lives."

8. (U) COMMENT: Although many of the articles prominently featured

KHARTOUM 00001262 002 OF 002

the CDA's remarks on the parliamentarian visa issue, they
conveniently did not include his admonition for the Sudanese press
to confirm their facts and raise their professional standards.
Second, many of the Arabic dailies also addressed the flood relief
in passing, featuring controversial issues such as the
parliamentarians' visas or the CDA's comments on the Darfur.
Nonetheless, even these articles enabled the U.S. to correct
misinformation, put forth official policy, and, at the end of such
articles, commemorate the U.S. contribution to flood relief.
Finally, it may be easy to dismiss Titaw's scathing commentary
because of its bizarre allegations which blame the U.S. for global
flooding or state that the U.S. is led by an extremist Catholic
administration. Nonetheless, Titaw's position as the head of the
Sudanese Journalists' Association and his connection to regime
insiders, may give his vitriolic message added weight. END

--------------------------------------------- ---
--------------------------------------------- ---

9. (U) Begin text:

The United States Delivers Flood Relief to the People of Sudan
-Materials to be distributed through the "Common Pipeline"-

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - The United States Government today airlifted 1300
rolls of plastic sheeting that will help provide shelter for 78,000
individuals in the flood-affected areas of northern and eastern
Sudan. The material is valued at over one-half million U.S.

U.S. Charg d'Affaires Alberto M. Fernandez requested the U.S.
assistance saying, "The U.S. Government is pleased to provide
additional shelter materials to those who have lost their homes and
livelihoods in the recent flooding. The U.S. continues to be
committed to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to the
people of Sudan."
The Undersecretary for the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Mr.
Charles Manyang, accepted the material on behalf of the Government
of Sudan, and expressed his gratitude to the U.S. and its partners.

This plastic sheeting will be distributed via the Common
Humanitarian Pipeline, a quick-response distribution network
established in 2004 and managed by the U.N. Joint Logistics Centre
with support from UNICEF and the non-governmental organization CARE
International. This distribution mechanism, largely supported by
the USG to quickly respond to non-food item needs throughout Sudan,
has played a vital role in ensuring that lifesaving materials, like
plastic sheeting, cooking sets, and mosquito nets, arrive rapidly to
flood-affected areas. The Common Pipeline has already rushed
material to nine affected states in the north of Sudan, benefiting
more than 200,000 people.
Speaking on behalf of the Common Pipeline partners, UNICEF
Representative Ted Chaiban recognized the importance of effective
collaboration, saying "In emergencies, it is critical that there is
a speedy and appropriate response to meet immediate needs. This is
being achieved in Sudan's flood-affected regions, because the
Government, the international community, the UN and the
non-governmental organizations have worked together. We remain
committed to this spirit of partnership, to better serve those
affected by this emergency."
The U.S. is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to
Sudan and Darfur. The U.S. has contributed more than $2.6 billion
for humanitarian, development, and reconstruction projects in Sudan
and eastern Chad in FY 2005 and FY 2006, and has provided more than
half of all humanitarian assistance to Sudan. Through humanitarian
programs the U.S. provides shelter, food, water and sanitation,
health and hygiene, relief supplies and income-generation funds for
those in need. For more information about the United State's
emergency humanitarian assistance programs in Sudan, please visit For more information on UNICEF's activities in
Sudan, please visit


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