Cablegate: Un Optimistic About Demining Programs

DE RUEHKH #1440/01 2671139
O 231139Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: The United Nations Mine Action Office (UNMAO) and
its contractors expect a 90 per cent success rate in clearing mines
and unexploded ordinance (UXOs) in Sudan prior to a mid-2011 program
handover to national authorities. Even with the current optimism,
UNMAO doesn't realistically expect to completely depart in 2011, as
they believe donors will demand further oversight. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Poloff met with officials from UNMAO, the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP), and the National Mine Action Center
between Sept 13-16 to discuss current demining efforts and programs
before the scheduled 2011 transition to national authorities. Nigel
Forrestal, Acting Program Director for UNMAO, informed Poloff he
expects a 90 per cent removal rate of all mines and UXOs from the 24
Sudanese states prior to June, 2011.

3. (SBU) Despite his optimism, Forrestal said UNMAO doesn't
realistically expect to depart in 2011 as the organization's
leadership anticipates donors will demand further oversight. UNMAO
expects that 30 per cent of its staff will remain past 2011 and 2014
will be a more realistic program completion date. He said the
additional time will allow UNMAO to complete accreditation of local

Local NGO development as the way forward
4. (SBU) Qadeem Tariq, the Senior Technical Advisor for the UNDP,
anticipates the creation of new Sudanese demining NGOs in the next
few years that will need on-going training. As more than 80 per
cent of current demining workers are Sudanese middle management and
below, he said staffing the new NGOs should be fairly simple, as
these workers can be easily absorbed by the new NGOs and retrained.
He envisions 15 training teams specializing in awareness, clearance
or victims' assistance.

South Kordofan takes a holistic approach
5. (SBU) Marco Buono, the Program Manager for the Danish Church Aid
(DCA) in Southern Kordofan, said that DCA is restructuring its
programs. He will merge survey, Mine Risk Education (MRE), and
Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams into eight to ten person
multi-task teams which will complete the spectrum of operations from
technical survey to mine removal and community education. Buono
feels this shift to a more holistic approach will greatly enhance
the efficiency and timeliness of DCA programs. The teams will be
fully integrated and operational before March 2009. He hopes to
receive additional funding for a permanent, national training
facility to standardize procedures and build capacity.

Nuba Mountains sees development and tribal cooperation
--------------------------------------------- ---------
6. (SBU) Maluk Ruya Abugrenat, Manager of the Nuba Mountains Mine
Action Sudan (NMMAS) Program, reported an increase in security in
the area, which has enticed local populations to return (an increase
in security compared to pre-CPA). He noted a trend in low-level
sustainable development and tribal cooperation as businesses work
together to make up for lost time. He anticipates that with the
returning population, more areas will be surveyed and more mines
will be found, especially along the Ethiopian border. (Comment:
This prediction is also somewhat ominous, as returning populations
are likely to discover mine fields by accident. End comment.) He
also noted the addition of the "Bozena 4" remotely controlled mine
clearance flail machine obtained in 2002 as a key to their continued
operational success. Abugrenat's team reports clearing more than
77,936 square meters this year.

Northern Regional Operations hindered by politics
--------------------------------------------- ----
7. (SBU) Diek Engelbrecht, Coordinator for Northern Regional
Operations for UNMAO, affirmed 19 high impact areas will be cleared
by December and expects to start operations in Jonglei and Upper
Nile in June. Kassala and Damazin will still have a combined,
thirty-six highly- impacted communities to be addressed, but
Engelbrecht believes that by 2011 all "highly-impacted" communities
will be cleared. Kassala remains politically sensitive, as both
local and national officials have a hand in the permit process for
the Eritrean border. As a result, much of the border area remains
un-surveyed despite the likely of WWII-era UXOs.

8. (SBU) Englebrecht lauds the MRE program, which has led to a
decline in the number of civilian mine victims. He attributed this
to the fact that starting in 2006 internally-displaced persons
benefited from mine awareness education programs. He voiced
concern, however, that the number of mine victims is much higher
given poor communications infrastructure and a reluctance on the
part of medical personnel to take the time to report casualties.
This prevents some data from reaching the UNMAO.

Darfur: Robust MRE program, but operationally stalled
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9. (SBU) Nigel Forrestal (UNMAO) reported that operations in Darfur
are stalled due to insecurity in the area. He said contractor
JASMAR can currently only react to "pin-point operations" (UXO spot
tasks). Reconnaissance operations are very difficult given the
current loss of nine vehicles this year due to carjacking. Mine
Tech International and MECHEM contractors will be handling road
clearance starting from the south. This should begin in October.
The MRE program is strong and is focused on educating IDPs on what
to look for as they return home. However, economic necessity means
some will still choose selling scrap metal (when vehicles are
destroyed by mines) over the danger of handling UXOs.

Overall Challenges

10. (SBU) All contacts reported that bad weather will limit
operations from July until October. In addition, roads, markers,
and UXOs will shift following heavy rains, creating an additional
hazard. The intense heat of Sudan and heavy protective gear prevent
teams from working at full strength, and they must constantly rotate
in 30-45 minute shifts. Christina Greene, UNMAO Program Officer
said that surveys for Darfur and the Chadian borders have yet to be
completed, which may mean more mine/UXO areas are still
unregistered. Contacts reported that customs procedures continue to
hold up equipment, and the ongoing delays for visas and travel
permits will complicate on-going operations. In addition, theft of
equipment in shipment status to Darfur remains a continuing


11. (SBU) Despite UNMAO's optimism, political uncertainty alone (let
alone the logistical challenges due to weather, poor roads, etc.)
suggests that a completion of a 90 per cent level in currently-known
mine/UXO areas may be unrealistic. Moreover, there is still a lack
of survey data for Darfur and the Eritrean and Chadian borders. If
one of UNMAO's goals is for Sudanese organizations to take over a
functional de-mining program in 2011, UNMAO should consider giving
greater emphasis to training and coordination programs. This will
facilitate local NGOs beginning to take over UN demining projects in


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