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Cablegate: Ethiopia: Usaid Ofda Report - Update of Ogaden

VZCZCXRO4859
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #3584/01 3521344
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181344Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8900
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHINGTON DC 0076

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 003584

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR A/S AF FRAZER, DAS AF JSWAN,
AF/E, AF/PDPA, OES, A/S PRM SAUERBREY, PRM USDA/FAS FOR U/S
PENN, MCHAMBLISS, RTILSWORTH, AND LPANASUK
NAIROBI FOR RFFPO, REDSO/ESA
USAID/W FOR A/AID
DCHA/AA WGARVELINK, LROGERS
AFR/EA KNELSON
DCHA/FFP JDWORKEN, SANTHONY, PBERTOLIN, SMOORE, JLEE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EAID PHUM SENV EAGR ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: USAID OFDA REPORT - UPDATE OF OGADEN
SITUATION

ADDIS ABAB 00003584 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: This USAID OFDA report corresponds to a
meeting hosted by the Ambassador on December 14 (septel), the
fifth in a series of meetings of NGOs, UN agencies and donor
countries, with the purpose of discussing and sharing
information on the Ogaden. The general consensus at this
meeting--and among USAID's NGO and other contacts--is that
access to the region by NGO groups has improved and that
interaction with the Ethiopian leadership and intervention by
the international community (with the U.S. as the lead) has
resulted in humanitarian food deliveries to primary
distribution points. However, all NGO and other contacts
agree that the degree to which the GoE has opened up is
insufficient and that it is now a "race against time" to
prevent famine-like conditions with potentially high child
mortality rates from malnutrition and disease (specifically
measles). Recent progress--largely in response to pressure
from the U.S. and international community--has alleviated
conditions in major towns, but the precarious humanitarian
situation in the Ogaden districts of Somali region likely
continues unabated in more rural areas that cannot be
accessed for monitoring. Through floods in the north, poor
rains and drought in the south, and an invasion of desert
locusts, nature is now exacerbating the largely man-made
crisis.

2. (SBU) Considerable food aid has moved to major towns and
is beginning to reach distribution points in secondary
centers, although the amount of food confirmed distributed
remains insufficient. Capacity and access for health and
malnutrition interventions is still very limited. UN and NGO
access is gradually improving, but large areas still remain
inaccessible and untouched. Faster movement on access is
essential to minimize the scale of the impending famine.
Needs far outweigh the funding committed to-date, with
specific technical assistance also needed.

3. (SBU) The security situation remains tense and, according
to NGOs, foreigners are suspect and watched very closely,
along with any locals caught speaking to them. Insurgent
operations by the ONLF and incursions from Somalia add to the
instability and insecurity, causing truckers and NGO groups
to avoid many rural areas. Post is taking the lead in
developing alternative approaches for the international
community to undertake in an effort to alleviate the
worsening situation. In this context, post welcomes the
deployment of a modest sized assessment team. Due to
security, access, logistical, programming and political
considerations, the size and scope of the team should be
appropriate, and include only the following: two health and
nutrition specialists, information officer, food logistics
officer, and team leader. END SUMMARY.

--------------------
UPDATE ON CONDITIONS
--------------------

4. (SBU) Food Aid: Food deliveries are moving at an
increasing rate. To-date, WFP reports that 14,272 metric
tons have been dispatched into the Somali region out of a
current requirement of 52,000 metric tons. Though this food
has left the warehouse, distribution to beneficiaries has
been inadequate. For example, the UN and WFP report that
about 60 trucks containing an unconfirmed amount of the food
aid (but estimated at up to 600 MT), are still delayed at
Kebribeyah, not far outside of Jijiga. These trucks have
waited for military escort for some 20 days. Recently,
approximately 40 other trucks that had been waiting were able
to leave Kebribeyah with escort. Some distribution to
beneficiaries is underway, although confirmed levels are
still low. The lack of available trucks and exorbitant high
prices of trucks available are slowing distribution.
According to a UNOCHA report, payment for unloading of trucks
has not been arranged, so food aid is being used to pay these
costs. For example, the report notes that out of 812 metric
tons of food recently delivered to Gashamo, 54 metric tons
was used to pay for transport and porters. NGOs reported
that the role of the military and political preferences in

ADDIS ABAB 00003584 002.2 OF 003


selecting beneficiaries remains a high concern, with very
little information on recipients and limited access for
monitoring by WFP in remote areas. WFP has been able to set
up quickly in Kebri Dehar and Degehabur, but access is an
issue to many distribution sites and only scattered
monitoring reports have yet been received. (NOTE: Post
believes that a USAID food logistics officer to assist and
monitor food distribution is needed. END NOTE.)

5. (SBU) Commercial Trade: In light of significantly
increased commercial access along major roads, food prices
have returned to normal (or near normal) in the major towns
of the Ogaden area. However, NGOs caution that food outside
the towns is scarce. Movement of food outside of these major
towns remains a concern, with persistent reports that the
local population or traders are not allowed to move food to
many parts of the rural areas. Reports from NGOs from more
remote centers, such as Denan and East Imi indicate that no
food is available on the local market, no food aid has been
received, and malnutrition levels in both children and adults
is rising. (NOTE: During the visit of USAID administrator
Fore to Godeh, local officials reported that during normal
conditions about 100 children suffer from severe malnutrition
in the Godeh area requiring therapeutic feeding. However, as
a result of the counterinsurgency operation, the level of
therapeutic feeding for children has risen to 300. END
NOTE.) UN and NGOs still report restrictions by the ENDF in
order to keep food out of the hands of the Ogaden National
Liberation Front (ONLF) in almost all rural areas, which also
directly affects non-combatants facing severe food shortage.
Livestock trade has improved in some, but not all towns. The
UN and NGOs note that the Muslim Arapha festival is
increasing local demand for sheep and goats, which has
provided some demand and increase in prices. Demand and
prices for camels remain at levels far below the pre-crisis
period, as truck access to export markets across the border
has not resumed.

6. (SBU) Health and Nutrition: Elders at the Somali
pastoralist gathering in Addis Ababa on December 1 reported
varying conditions for malnutrition in the Ogaden. The
Korahe and Degehabur elders did not report visible signs of
malnutrition, but elders from Fik zone reported significant
numbers dying from hunger, though there is as yet no evidence
to substantiate how many are dying. A follow up to the
nutrition survey by Save the Children UK in Fik in early
October, which showed emergency levels of malnutrition, has
not yet taken place. The UN reported that the GoE is now
proceeding with the UN on a rapid assessment in the Fik area,
using a different methodology (not the officially accepted
methodology of the GoE). Save the Children UK is not
included in the survey, and Save the Children US has been
told that they will not be allowed to participate in the
rapid survey in Denan area of Fik zone. According to UNICEF,
mobile health clinics from UNICEF have not yet been allowed
to go to rural areas, and as a result of the lack of capacity
and underdevelopment, the state health system is almost
non-existent. USAID Addis has reported that where child
malnutrition is already high, mortality can be expected to
increase as the livestock milk dries up during the dry
season. USAID Addis believes that this also increases
vulnerability to predatory diseases such as measles and
meningitis and to "Acute Watery Diarrhea," which has been
already causing deaths for several months. (NOTE: Post
believes that two USAID/CDC health and nutrition officers are
needed to assist and monitor the situation. END NOTE.)

7. (SBU) Agriculture/Livestock: USAID Addis and NGOs have
reported that the Deyr rains from September to November were
below normal in most of the Ogaden area. In the
agropastoralist areas, very little planting took place and
virtually no harvest is expected even in the riverine areas
(which were earlier affected by floods from highland rains).
In the purely pastoralist areas, the available fodder is very
low in the central Fik zone area, improving further east.
USAID Addis noted to the donor community that pastures will
be further eroded by recent locust infestations in the Korahe

ADDIS ABAB 00003584 003.2 OF 003


and Gode areas, which are the worst reported in the area for
many years. The Deyr rains ended in mid-November in most
areas, two to three weeks early, which will extend the long
"Jilaal," or dry season. Rainfall is not expected in the
area until late March or April. According to a UNOCHA
report, although there are no reports of body condition of
animals deteriorating yet, there are large areas which are
still not accessible to surveys. There are numerous reports
of male herders moving to new pastures with their large
stock, leaving the women and children in villages or towns.
Overall, the picture is one of deteriorating conditions over
the coming months.

8. (SBU) Security: The security situation remains tense,
including in the Somali regional capital of Jijiga. Post has
received reports from the NGOs that several NGO staff members
have left the region for their own safety. Two senior
members of the Somali Regional cabinet have fled the country,
and the Governor of Gode has quit, all citing their
unwillingness to carry out security functions for the GoE.
(NOTE: Post is attempting to confirm these reports. END
NOTE.) USAID Addis and NGOs have reported that civil servants
continue to be pressed into the government militias, and many
have fled to avoid recruitment. NGOs and USAID Addis staff
traveling through the region noted that there are numerous
reports of punishment of locals seen speaking to foreigners,
and there is fear of speaking to foreigners in public as a
result. Information must be gathered carefully through
personal relationships and trusted contacts. The Portuguese
Ambassador who headed an EU troika trip to Jijiga reported
that the EU ambassadors received little information during
their trip.

9. (SBU) Insurgency: NGOs report that truckers from
Somaliland are refusing to travel to areas outside of the
main towns due to insecurity, landmines, ONLF activity and
ONLF-ENDF fighting. NGOs continue to inform us that as a
result of insecurity they cannot and will not travel to many
rural parts of the Ogaden. These situations also make
potential food distribution to rural areas difficult. The
Ambassador noted that the Ogaden and Somalia are linked
together because of insurgents operating from Somalia.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
COMMENT: U.S. EFFORTS SHOWING RESULTS, MUCH STILL TO DO
--------------------------------------------- ----------

10. (SBU) The December 14 meeting at the Ambassador's
residence as well as the general consensus among NGO groups
is one of extreme frustration. While efforts led by the U.S.
have resulted in positive forward movement in opening access
for NGOs and UN food distribution to major towns, reports
from the NGO community in particular indicate that the
situation is getting worse. If food does not reach the rural
areas quickly and in significant amounts, child mortality
rates and famine-like conditions are most likely expected to
increase. Post will continue to lead efforts among the
NGO-UN-Donor group to develop new approaches with the GoE to
address these concerns.

11. (SBU) Needs far outweigh resources and restricted access
to the most affected areas remains a serious concern.
Additional assistance is needed for emergency malnutrition
support and health interventions, such as inoculation against
predatory diseases such as measles and meningitis.
Considerable additional support will be needed for
rehabilitation and recovery activities and for livelihoods
support, integrated with conflict resolution and peace
building activities when circumstances allow. The proposed
USAID assessment team will be an important support mechanism
to assess needs. END COMMENT.
YAMAMOTO

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