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Cablegate: Iom Still Unable to Work in Darfur; Planning for Returns

VZCZCXRO4841
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0957/01 2300441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180441Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4281
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0115
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0352
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0166
RUEHSUN/USUN ROME IT

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000957

NSC FOR MGAVIN, LETIM
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
UN ROME FOR HSPANOS
NEW YORK FOR DMERCADO

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PHUM KPKO AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: IOM STILL UNABLE TO WORK IN DARFUR; PLANNING FOR RETURNS
NEEDED

REF: KHARTOUM 927

1. (U) SUMMARY. During the week of August 10, USAID Mission
Director and staff met with the heads of the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) to discuss potential
returns in Darfur, IOM's role in verifying returns, the changing
landscape of Darfur and the impact of potential returns. Both IOM
and OCHA noted ongoing concerns with insecurity, the complicated
nature of potential returns, and the importance of maintaining IOM
independence and implementing the organization's mandate to conduct
verification of returns. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Despite Mandate, Expertise, IOM Barred in Darfur
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (U) On August 11, USAID Mission Director and USAID staff met with
Mario Tavolaj, Special Envoy to Sudan for the IOM Director General,
to discuss the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in
Sudan, particularly Darfur. Tavolaj, who has worked in Sudan for
five years, provided an overview of IOM programs in Sudan and
background information on IOM's role in providing IDP support and
verifying returns.

3. (U) In 2004, IOM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the
Sudanese government and the UN that established the standards for
protection monitoring of IDP movements as well as IOM's
responsibilities to provide support for the protection of returning
IDPs in North and South Darfur. Currently, IOM implements the
protection monitoring activities through its Verification and
Monitoring Unit which operates in North and South Darfur. In
addition, IOM carries out protection monitoring activities in North
and South Darfur through field missions to assess the voluntariness
and appropriateness of returns and relocations, either pre-movement
or post-movement. IOM also conducts return monitoring, humanitarian
assessments, contextual analysis, general protection monitoring, and
other humanitarian missions.

4. (SBU) However, Mr. Tavolaj said, Sudanese officials have
prohibited IOM from accessing South Darfur since February 15, 2009.
The GNU has not provided any official communication citing reasons
for the prohibition. Since February, IOM staff have met with
federal, state, and local officials to attempt to resolve the
situation, and have received messages of assurance and appreciation
for IOM's mission. However, Mr. Tavolaj said, the organization
remains barred.

5. (U) IOM has the expertise and mandate to verify that returns in
North and South Darfur are voluntary and appropriate according to
international norms, including the UN Guiding Principles for
Internal Displacement. According to Mr. Tavolaj, the approach for
verifying IDP returns has to be different in Darfur than in many
other countries because the IDPs have been in camps for four to six
years, not a year or less, which is typical elsewhere. As a result,
Mr. Tavolaj said, rural camps may have to be handled differently
from the urban camps, which are now virtually a part of the cities
to which they are adjacent. The IOM provides assistance based on
individual need rather than status as an IDP, returnee, or
host-community member.

------------------------
IDPS OUTNUMBER RETURNEES
------------------------

6. (U) IOM maintains a database of more than 2.8 million individuals
in the camps in Darfur, including IDP and non-IDP individuals. Mr.
Tavolaj said the IOM estimates that, of that number, there are,
currently, approximately 2 million IDPs. This IOM estimate is
significantly lower than UN estimates, which range from between 2.5
and 2.8 million IDPs. In 2009, IOM has not recorded increased
returns compared to 2008. As in 2008, recorded incidents of primary
and secondary displacement outnumber returns, in North and South
Darfur. (NOTE: According to the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), some IDPs have experienced up to three
displacements, all from different locations, which further

KHARTOUM 00000957 002 OF 002


complicates returns. END NOTE.) According to IOM, insecurity
continues to impact the pattern of returns. Of the 27,742 returnees
interviewed in 2008, almost all cited insecurity as their reason for
initial displacement.

------------------------------------
Security, Services Influence Returns
------------------------------------

7. (U) Mr. Tavolaj reported that some IDPs are unwilling to leave
camps over fear of losing existing humanitarian services, including
food aid and potential compensation from a comprehensive agreement.
Following signing of a comprehensive peace agreement, 40 to 60
percent of the IDP population of a camp may decline to return to
areas of origin, he warned.

8. (U) In a subsequent meeting between USAID staff and Gloria
Fernandez, the newly appointed Head of OCHA, Ms. Fernandez
underscored that a typical pattern for internal displacement
includes IDPs maintaining places both inside a camp and in an area
of origin, keeping the camps as the fallback option. Fernandez
noted that this is particularly true for long-term IDPs who have
been displaced for several years. There is a widespread belief
among the humanitarian and donor communities that the IDPs'
situation is unlikely to return to what it was before their initial
displacement.

------------------------------
Planning for Returns Important
------------------------------

9. (SBU) IOM is not presently conducting planning for IDP returns
under a peace scenario. Mr. Tavolaj said that such planning is
needed, and IOM is currently working with the UN Humanitarian
Country Team to update the UN Framework for Returns in Darfur. In
addition, OCHA's Fernandez reported that the UN is planning two
sessions in the next few weeks, including one to review the
Government of National Unity (GNU) Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC)
proposal to establish a joint verification mechanism (Reftel).
Tavolaj noted that IOM can participate in joint assessments;
however, IOM's experience regarding verification of voluntary
returns to date has yielded few positive results. OCHA also plans
to examine assistance approaches and return conditions. In
particular, OCHA will consider how the UN can participate in a joint
mechanism and still maintain international standards and principles.
The second UN meeting will be a planning exercise to address
assistance for potential returns.

10. (SBU) COMMENT. The issue of returnees and verification of the
voluntary nature of returnees is increasingly important due to the
GNU HAC-led programs to encourage IDPs to leave camps, including
construction of dozens of so-called "model villages" funded by the
Arab League. The international community, led by the UN and IOM,
must recognize the need to have quick response mechanisms to support
voluntary returnees, either as returns occur spontaneously, or
through a broader comprehensive peace agreement, all the while
remaining within the context of internationally accepted principles
for IDPs.

11. (U) The recent results of several joint assessments conducted by
between UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the
Sudanese government, including the February 2009 yet-to-be released
South Darfur Post-Harvest Assessment and the diluted post-March 4
humanitarian gap assessments underscore the importance of
independent international monitoring and verification work. END
COMMENT.

WHITEHEAD

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