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Cablegate: Sudan - Usaid Flood and Returnee Assessment in Unity State

VZCZCXRO9683
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1271/01 2261225
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141225Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8195
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001271

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU

SUBJECT: SUDAN - USAID FLOOD AND RETURNEE ASSESSMENT IN UNITY STATE


KHARTOUM 00001271 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary. From August 7 to 9, a USAID staff member traveled to
Unity State to assess the flood emergency. Three counties in Unity
State are seriously flooded, and between 6,000 and 13,000 families
displaced statewide. Aid agencies and local officials are concerned
because flooding began in July, which is unusually early, and the
main flood season is still ahead. The USAID representative also
investigated an alternate route to return Southern Sudanese
internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Khartoum to Equatoria. The
current river route is too slow and air travel is too expensive to
accommodate the high volume of Equatorian IDPs who are likely to
return. State authorities agreed that a better route would be by
road from Khartoum to Bentiu, then by river from Bentiu to Juba.
The joint U.N.-government Returns Task Force in Khartoum will
consider this option. End summary.

----------------
Flood Assessment
----------------

2. At the invitation of the governor, a USAID representative
traveled to Unity State with the Southern Sudan Relief and
Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) Director for Returns and the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) Returns Coordinator.
The team traveled on oil companies' airplanes and helicopters to and
within Unity State. Upon arrival in Bentiu, the USAID staff member
attended the weekly interagency humanitarian coordination meeting,
where the U.N. Regional Coordinator reported that flooding has
affected eight of nine counties in the state, with three counties
"seriously affected". Humanitarian agencies estimate that flooding
has displaced 6,000 families -- or approximately 36,000 people --
but assessments are incomplete and information is poor, as rural
areas are inaccessible. Government officials estimate that the
flooding has affected 13,000 families, including the populations of
inaccessible villages.

3. Local authorities do not yet consider Unity State a general
disaster area. Rains have been good for crops in areas not yet
flooded, and cattle herds are healthy. Maize will soon be available
in some areas, and fish are widely available. Nonetheless, the
state government is appealing for urgent flood relief for some
severely affected locations. Officials noted that flooding comes
from two sources: rainfall in western Unity, and the rising White
Nile River system in eastern Unity.

4. The team flew by helicopter from Bentiu to the most-affected
area, southern Mayom County, located in western Unity State. The
team observed an estimated 1,000 or more abandoned huts in one
portion of southern Mayom County. The residents reportedly have
gone to higher land in rural areas or into Mayom and Mankien towns.
The governor said that people moved to low-lying areas in southern
Mayom County during the war. This is the first serious flooding
since people moved to these areas, and they will likely resettle on
higher land where they used to live, according to the governor.

5. The flood response has been limited to date. In some areas, the
U.N. World Food Program has distributed food, 80 percent of which
was donated by USAID. The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) flew
in medicines and donated USD 500,000 to state authorities for flood
response. The Government of National Unity (GNU) Humanitarian Aid
Commission (HAC) in Khartoum flew in 1,000 plastic sheets and 1,000
blankets, which were distributed to people in Bentiu town. The U.N.
Children's Fund brought in 1,000 emergency household kits from
Malakal and will bring in more kits and chlorine to purify drinking
water. IOM has 1,000 mosquito nets, 1,000 blankets, and 500 plastic
sheets intended for returnees that can be used for flood relief.
Household supplies such as water containers and cooking sets have
not yet been distributed. The non-governmental organization CARE
and USAID partner World Relief operate 15 health clinics in the
state and are organizing mobile medical teams. To date, there are
no reports of nutritional or livestock health problems, but the U.N.
Food and Agriculture Organization predicts damage to crops and a
reduction in the harvest.

6. USAID is responding to flooding in Unity State through current
partners and programs. WFP and Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) are
distributing food, and World Relief is providing health services.
In addition, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
(USAID/OFDA) expects to provide new funding to NPA to procure and
deliver non-food items to remote areas of Unity State that are not
accessible from Bentiu.


KHARTOUM 00001271 002.2 OF 002


--------------------------------------------- -----
A Better Returnee Route from Khartoum to Equatoria
--------------------------------------------- -----

7. In 2007, approximately 45,000 IDPs have returned home through
the GOSS, GNU, U.N., and IOM organized returns program. These
returnees have traveled from northern Sudan to Southern Sudan and
Southern Kordofan. The majority have traveled by road to Southern
Kordofan, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Warrab states. Pilot
programs have returned small numbers of IDPs further south, to
Shambe in Lakes State, Bor in Jonglei State, and Equatoria; however,
costs and travel time limit the expansion of these programs. Road
transport is inexpensive and fast in parts of Sudan, but the road
network in Southern Sudan is poor. River transport is cheapest, but
very slow. Using the available three passenger barges, a maximum of
10,000 IDPs per year could travel by river from Kosti, White Nile
State, to Juba, Central Equatoria State. Air transport would cost
approximately USD 25 million for 100,000 people, which is
prohibitively expensive.

8. USAID/OFDA is contributing USD 4.5 million to the IOM returns
program during Fiscal Year 2007, and recently became involved with
IOM and SSRRC in planning a more effective way for IDPs to return to
Equatoria. USAID suggested using roads as far south as possible,
which is to Bentiu, and using the river from there to Juba. A USAID
representative discussed this with the Minister for Humanitarian
Affairs in Khartoum, the SSRRC Chairman in Juba, and the Governor of
Unity State. All agreed that this route would be better than the
alternatives.

9. In Bentiu, the USAID representative, the SSRRC Khartoum Director
for Returns, and the IOM Khartoum Returns Coordinator met with the
Unity State Governor and SSRRC Director to discuss this plan in more
detail. The team drove to see two possible docks at Adok and
Tharjath. While Adok is conveniently located, it lacks a proper
dock. Tharjath, on a tributary of the White Nile, has a new dock
and road built by a Malaysian oil company.

10. The team concluded that Tharjath is the preferred docking site
for loading returnees onto barges. The total travel time from
Khartoum to Juba would be approximately 10 days: 3 days from
Khartoum to Bentiu; 1 day for resting at the way station and loading
belongings onto the barges; and 6 days on the river to Juba.
Approximately 36,000 Equatorians could return from Khartoum to
Equatoria in one year via this route. The IOM and SSRRC officials
will recommend this route to the Returns Task Force and, if the Task
Force agrees as expected, USAID/OFDA's contribution to IOM will be
used to begin this operation in November.
POWERS

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