Cablegate: Darfur - Brazen Carjackings Bring Ngos to Tipping Point

DE RUEHKH #1565/01 2811143
P 081143Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


KHARTOUM 00001565 001.2 OF 004


1. (U) Recent attacks on non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
working throughout Darfur, including USAID partners CARE and World
Vision, have impacted the delivery of humanitarian services. Brazen
daytime carjackings in Nyala town, the capital of South Darfur, have
prompted the UN to impose a 14-day restriction on travel outside the
town limits and within the town as well. The travel restriction
will impact operations in the four internally displaced person (IDP)
camps near Nyala, Al Salam, Kalma, Otash, and El Shereif. At the
very same time and as the Sudanese government, armed opposition
groups, and other international actors prepare for the October peace
negotiations in Tripoli, security incidents are increasing and
tensions within IDP camps are rising. The deteriorated security
situation in Darfur is impeding access and delivery of humanitarian
assistance in several of Darfur's largest IDP camps, including Kalma
camp in South Darfur where reconciliation discussions are currently
underway. End Summary.

2. (U) Following the September 20 ambush of World Vision near Bulbul
Tismbago, South Darfur, in which three staff sustained gunshot
wounds (REF A), relief agencies in South Darfur continue to face
violence during carjackings and robberies. The repeated daytime
carjacking of NGO vehicles in Nyala town has caused humanitarian
agencies to re-evaluate their security and travel procedures and has
hindered their ability to implement humanitarian programs. From
September 18 to October 1, at least six separate incidents of
carjacking and banditry hindered USAID NGO partners' ability to
implement humanitarian assistance programs in South Darfur. During
this period, several incidents of violence against humanitarian
agencies also occurred in North and West Darfur.

NGO Staff Abducted in Carjacking

3. (U) On September 30 at approximately 1500 hours local time, a
CARE vehicle was carjacked in Nyala town, only five minutes away
from the NGO's office. At the time of the carjacking, the driver
and a Sudanese national staff member were en route from the CARE
office to the CARE warehouse to pick up spare parts to fix a broken
water pump in Kalma IDP camp. At the CARE warehouse, unidentified
armed men stole the vehicle and abducted the two NGO staff. The
vehicle was a Landcruiser, but not a Buffalo, which is easily
converted for military use. On October 2, the driver and staff
member were located in Umm Salaya, after having walked for six hours
to a police station, and returned safely to Nyala following three
days without food. Field reports indicate that the bandits ran out
of fuel, tried to steal fuel from villagers who chased them, and got
a flat tire. Of particular concern are reports that indicate that
the bandits argued whether or not to kidnap the staff members or
leave them to return to the village. For months, aid agencies have
feared that carjacking trends will escalate into kidnapping for

4. (SBU) CARE has temporarily grounded vehicles in Nyala town and
surrounding areas. At a meeting with the South Darfur Humanitarian
Aid Commission (HAC) on October 1, CARE stated the carjacking
incident would have implications for the NGO's water, sanitation,
and hygiene programs in all four Nyala-area camps (Al Salam, Otash,
Kalma, and El Sherief) On October 2, CARE told USAID staff that it
intends to scale-back operations and reduce staffing levels in South
Darfur. The NGO's staff are severely shaken up. On October 2, CARE
drivers refused to work out of fear of another carjacking. USAID is
in communication with CARE leadership to determine if the scale-back
in activities will affect CARE's ability to truck water into Al
Salam camp and maintain existing water points in Kalma, Otash, and
El Sherief camps. Further, the scale-back will reduce CARE's
ability to monitor the water programs, ensuring that community water
committees are distributing water fairly and that vulnerable groups
have access to safe drinking water.

5. (SBU) In discussion with USAID staff in Khartoum, CARE reported
that the HAC in Nyala has implied that NGO staff (both CARE and
other NGOs who have experienced carjackings) are believed to be the
ones responsible for stealing the vehicles. The South Darfur Wali

KHARTOUM 00001565 002.2 OF 004

stated that NGOs brought these incidents on themselves because they
are sympathetic to the opposition groups. The Wali went on to
accuse NGOs of failing to limit their hiring to drivers cleared and
recommended by the authorities, as well as for refusing police
escorts and armed protection. This incident follows the recent
expulsion of CARE's country director (REF B), adding yet another
challenge to an already weary organization.

14-Day UN Travel Restriction Issued

6. (U) On October 1, the UN issued a 14-day travel restriction
prohibiting UN vehicles and staff from traveling outside of Nyala
town. In addition, the UN advised that travel within the town
should be limited to essential travel on'Q1QRQQed by a Sudanese government police escort going to Al Salam
IDP camp. The only other exception to the travel restriction is for
official convoys proceeding to Kalma IDP camp to pursue
reconciliation of the ongoing tensions.

7. (U) The travel restrictions apply to all UN agencies. Although
the UN cannot enforce this requirement on NGOs, they strongly
recommend that NGOs follow the travel restrictions. The USAID field
officer based in Nyala reports that most NGOs are adhering to this
requirement. Previously, some NGOs were able to maintain a limited
presence in camps declared as UN no-go areas by sending Sudanese
national staff for short periods of time. [Note: USAID staff in
Darfur adhere to UN travel policies. End note.]

Access Restricted to Al Salam IDP Camp

8. (U) On September 16, unidentified men shot at USAID partner
CARE's vehicle on the Nyala-Al Salam road and attempted to carjack
the vehicle. Shots hit the engine block, but the NGO staff were not
injured and returned safely to Nyala. Following this attempted
carjacking, NGOs working in the camp requested a police escort for
aid convoys traveling to Al Salam. The police escorts are scheduled
to meet at the police checkpoint at 0930 hours for the camp and
return at 1400 hours. However, USAID field staff based in Nyala
report that the police escort policy is not working effectively. On
September 25 and 26, police escorts failed to arrive, delaying
planned visits. On September 30, the police escorted NGOs to the
camp but never returned to escort the agencies back to Nyala.

9. (U) Humedica International is the camp coordinator for Al Salam
camp, where more than 35,000 IDPs currently reside. USAID funds
CARE's water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in the camp,
including the delivery of water by truck. USAID also funds the
International Medical Corps to provide health services in Al Salam

10. (U) In January 2007, Al Salam hosted approximately 3,500 IDPs,
according to Action Contre la Faim (ACF). Seven months later, the
camp population increased to more than 35,000 people newly displaced
from fighting and insecurity in Buram locality, South Darfur.
Relief agencies responded to the increased displacement through
expansion of existing services, but the population remains
particularly vulnerable. In May 2007, ACF reported 23 percent
global acute malnutrition (GAM) and 2.8 percent severe acute
malnutrition (SAM) rates in Al Salam camp among children between 6
and 59 months old. Both rates indicated that malnutrition levels
have exceeded emergency thresholds.

11. (U) Although limited access to Al Salam camp is currently being
achieved through use of police escorts, the deteriorating security
conditions are impacting the ability of NGOs to provide even basic
services. Even when police escorts are available, the time left for
program implementation in the camp is only 2 or 3 hours daily.
Efforts to improve the availability of safe drinking water and
sanitation facilities, provide primary health care services, and
identify and treat IDPs suffering from malnutrition can be expected
to be scaled-back and delayed. As a result of the police escort
policy and limited program time, ACF reports that it is unable to
check on all recovering malnutrition patients and provide follow up

KHARTOUM 00001565 003.2 OF 004

care due to the limited time in camp.

Kalma IDP Camp

12. (U) Since September 6, the UN has declared Kalma IDP camp a
no-go area due to ongoing ethnic tension and insecurity in the camp.
Kalma camp hosts nearly 92,000 IDPs and is known as one of the most
politicized and volatile camps in Darfur.

13. (U) Field sources confirmed that four Fur IDPs were killed on
September 29 in sector 4 of the camp. On September 30, the Sudanese
government police transported the bodies to Nyala. Unconfirmed
reports indicate that one of the IDPs may have participated in the
September 6 murders of four suspects, who had attempted to carjack a
UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) vehicle in Kalma camp. In addition,
unconfirmed reports indicate that 2 to 4 other Fur IDPs were also
killed outside the camp on September 29.

14. (U) The root cause of the violence is ongoing tensions between
Fur and Zaghawa IDPs residing in the camp. Throughout September,
the UN and NGOs have made repeated attempts to meet with IDP
community leaders and resolve the tensions. As of October 1, USAID
field staff report that reconciliation meetings in Kalma Camp have
not resulted in reduced tensions or increased access to the camp for
all agencies.

15. (U) Since Kalma camp has been designated a no-go area for nearly
one month, the September food aid distribution was repeatedly
delayed until October 1. In addition, USAID partner CARE has had
severely reduced access to the camp, impacting its ability to
implement and monitor water, sanitation, and hygiene activities for
the camp.


16. (U) While carjacking has become routine in Darfur and insecurity
a daily risk for aid organizations, the recent upsurge in violence
against humanitarian workers and tensions in IDP camps are severe
and has humanitarian aid organizations seriously considering the
viability of remaining in South Darfur. With the end of the rainy
season in September, a time when carjackings and fighting subside
due to the limited ability to travel on water-damaged roads, many
aid agencies expected a return to business-as-usual in carjacking
and banditry. However, the number of incidents in the last week,
the prolonged abduction of two CARE staff, and the recent shooting
of World Vision staff raise new concerns about the trends in
violence and risks that aid workers face in implementing the world's
largest humanitarian operation.

17. (SBU) Many humanitarian organizations also predict an increase
in politicization and violence in IDP camps and other areas in
Darfur. As the October peace negotiations approach, tensions in IDP
camps are rising and aid organizations are already reducing
operations as a result. Recent examples of the heightened tensions
and politicization include, ethnic clashes in Kalma camp and violent
demonstrations by IDPs supporting the Sudan Liberation Army faction
led by Abdul Wahid in Zalingei and El Fasher. As a result, the UN
has issued a warning for aid agencies to avoid Abu Shouk and As
Salaam IDP camps in El Fasher. Camp coordinating organizations in
El Fasher have advised delegations to avoid Abu Shouk and As Salaam
camps and humanitarian organizations to limit movements in these

18. (U) Reducing life-saving humanitarian assistance for IDPs at
this time is particularly problematic, as malnutrition and poor
water, sanitation, and hygiene services are urgent concerns that
need to be addressed. In addition, populations in camps are entirely
dependent on food aid and services that relief agencies provide.
USAID has observed that its partners are already stretched to the
limit and most have suffered repeated attacks on staff, including
sexual assault, gunfire, abductions, physical assault, and robbery.
While UN agencies and NGOs have not announced the closure of Darfur
operations, the constantly eroding access and recurring temporary
program suspensions have real humanitarian consequences for the
populations dependent on these services.

KHARTOUM 00001565 004.2 OF 004


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