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Cablegate: South Darfur Humanitarian Situation Stable, But

VZCZCXRO0328
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0979/01 2370844
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 250844Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4311
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0117
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0356
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0168
RUEHSUN/USUN ROME IT

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KHARTOUM 000979

NSC FOR MGAVIN, LETIM
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO 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: SOUTH DARFUR HUMANITARIAN SITUATION STABLE, BUT
UNSUSTAINABLE

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 908, (B) KHARTOUM 857, (C) KHARTOUM 856,
(D) KHARTOUM 802, (E) KHARTOUM 746

1. (U) SUMMARY. During the week of August 10, USAID staff traveled
to South Darfur to assess the humanitarian situation. Although the
overall humanitarian situation is currently stable and emergency
gaps are filled following the March 2009 expulsions of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), relief staff highlighted
concerns regarding sustainability of the emergency response,
deteriorating sanitation conditions, and the increased potential for
disease outbreaks during the current rainy season. END SUMMARY.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SOUTH DARFUR HUMANITARIAN SITUATION STABLE, BUT UNCERTAIN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (U) Between August 9 and 12, staff from USAID's Office of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) traveled to Nyala, South
Darfur, to meet with UN agencies and implementing NGO partners
regarding the humanitarian situation in South Darfur. During the
four-day trip, USAID/OFDA staff met with the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), UN World Food Program (WFP), UN World Health
Organization (WHO), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), American Refugee
Committee, Humedica, International Medical Corps, MC/Scotland, and
Merlin.

3. (U) According to humanitarian partners, the South Darfur current
humanitarian situation is characterized by annual agricultural
season movements and temporary returns, and a push by the Sudanese
government for permanent returns. USAID partners also noted a
deteriorating environmental sanitation situation. In addition,
emergency gaps stemming from the March NGO expulsions remain
temporarily filled, but without long-term gap-filling mechanisms.

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FARMING SEASON FUELS SOUTH DARFUR POPULATION MOVEMENT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (U) As of mid-August, South Darfur is experiencing the annual
increase in population movement associated with the planting season.
According to UN reports, 2009 population movement rates are similar
to movements in 2008. According to NGO and UN field staff,
insecurity prevents permanent returns to some areas of origin, and
populations may return to Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps
and IDP gathering areas once the agricultural season concludes.
Although some individuals are leaving camps to farm land, UN staff
reported that children and livestock remain at camps. (NOTE: IDPs
may travel between camps and areas of origin for a significant
period of time in order to assess the security situation. END
NOTE.)

5. (U) South Darfur humanitarian staff reported ongoing efforts by
the Sudanese government to convince relief agencies into supporting
returns and providing assistance to GNU-identified returns areas.
Highlighting GNU-identified returns areas, including Shattaia and
Donkey Dereisa, FAO noted that the current residents are seasonal
returnees or squatters occupying land that belongs to others. FAO
also noted concern with the latter movement, particularly as
customary Sudanese law states that an individual who does not return
to his land for three years forfeits ownership. (NOTE: Sudanese
government encouragement for other individuals to move onto and farm
vacant IDP land may further aggravate land issues. END NOTE.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NON-TRADITIONAL DONORS ENCOURAGE RETURNS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. (SBU) According to OCHA, non-traditional donors have recently
arrived in South Darfur and are advocating for increased returns.
Many of the organizations from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates
(NOTE: including Red Crescent societies from both countries END
NOTE), and the Arab League are returns-focused and do not coordinate
with international NGOs or UN agencies that have been operating in
Darfur for years. During one conversation with OCHA staff, Arab
League representatives presented the issue of returns in Darfur as a

KHARTOUM 00000979 002 OF 004


"done deal," saying we will finance it." NGO staff also reported
that the South Darfur HAC has announced plans for significant
population returns in 2010. (NOTE: Humanitarian agencies remain
concerned that some HAC-encouraged populations will be denied
assistance if international organizations cannot verify that returns
are voluntary and in line with international humanitarian
principles. END NOTE.)

7. (SBU) According to OCHA, Sudanese NGOs are required to include
assistance to returns in their organization's mission statement.
Noting the Sudanese government's March 2009 effort to nationalize
humanitarian aid within the year, OCHA questioned the ability of
international organizations to target and deliver assistance to
individuals in need when national NGO partners have to satisfy
returns-focused missions. According to UN agencies, the partnership
is further strained by limited national NGO resources and staffing,
and poor feedback from populations receiving services from the local
organizations.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SECURITY STABILIZES, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. (SBU) According to OCHA, although overall security incidents
against humanitarian staff and civilians have decreased, insecurity
continues to be a problem, despite the decrease in the number of
humanitarian staff in the area following the NGO expulsions and
kidnappings. In response to a stabilized security situation in
Nyala town, the UN Country Team has proposed changing Nyala town to
UN Phase Three rather than UN Phase Four, while recommending that
the rest of South Darfur remain at Phase Four.

9. (SBU) Although some humanitarian agencies have started providing
services to rural areas in South Darfur, assailants continue to
target relief staff traveling in the field, resulting in staff
injury and loss of humanitarian assets and equipment. Following an
August 4 carjacking in Limo village, approximately 23 km northeast
of Kass town, one USAID/OFDA partner has suspended work in Limo and
Tobufito villages, leaving the rural areas without health services.
Humanitarian agencies in South Darfur continue to liaise with the UN
to determine safe areas and investigate the possibility of traveling
with armed escorts or in convoy in order to deliver humanitarian
aid.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
FOOD SECURITY REMAINS UNKNOWN BUT PROMISING
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

10. (U) According to FAO and WFP, the South Darfur food security
situation will remain uncertain until the end of the rainy season.
Although the current rains started later than usual, FAO and state
agriculture officials hope that the rains continue through early
October to support a robust harvest. The 2008 harvest resulted in a
decrease in the South Darfur food gap, from a deficit of 425,000
metric tons (MT) in 2007 to 119,000 MT in 2008. Currently, FAO
observes increased livestock prices, decreased access to market (due
to insecurity and flooding), as well as elevated prices and
decreased supply on the local seed market. In an effort to increase
seed access and prevent farmers from consuming seed, FAO and
implementing partners have initiated robust seed protection programs
and coordinated with WFP to provide a general food distribution for
five food-insecure localities.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
GAPS FILLED, BUT EFFORTS UNSUSTAINABLE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

11. (SBU) South Darfur humanitarian staff noted that the state has
pre-expulsion gaps, post-expulsion gaps, and security-related
humanitarian gaps. Sudanese officials, UN agencies, and
humanitarian organizations have filled many of the post-expulsion
gaps, but gaps remain in rural areas, according to the UN and NGOs.
Five months after the March 2009 NGO expulsions, UN agencies
continue to provide significant support to state ministry
gap-filling efforts, putting additional strain on the stretched UN
system and reducing UN availability for program oversight and

KHARTOUM 00000979 003 OF 004


emergency planning. (NOTE: Typically, UN agencies provide
implementing NGO partners with program oversight, coordination, and
support rather than direct operational capacity. END NOTE.)
Additionally, the NGO expulsions significantly reduced partner
capacity to provide technical assistance, and remaining
international NGOs do not have the technical capacity or experience
to support specialized nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene
(WASH) programs, according to UNICEF.

-- Nutrition: International and local UNICEF staff continue to work
to address the nutrition needs of the South Darfur population. In
response to the annual hunger gap period, UNICEF provides direct
support to 1,700 supplementary feeding center patients in South
Darfur, an increase from the 2008 caseload. UNICEF staff noted a
willingness to provide interim assistance, but that a sustainable
solution must come from the government ministries which remain
severely understaffed and overburdened.

-- WASH: Although the Government of National Unity (GNU) Office of
Water and Environmental Sanitation (WES) continues to work to fill
WASH gaps, UNICEF staff noted that GNU WES remains focused on water
access rather than sanitation and waste management. Currently IDP
camps have adequate water access; however, environmental sanitation
has deteriorated significantly, and UNICEF noted concern for
potential outbreaks if the situation remains unaddressed. In
addition, UNICEF staff reported that GNU WES does not have the
capacity, camp experience, or monitoring ability to handle the
current situation, and remains unable to expand staff to address
increased needs during the rainy season.

-- Health: According to WHO, the current low-level of health
services and deteriorating environmental sanitation increase the
state's vulnerability to disease outbreaks. Although Sudanese
officials report that the health gap is 100 percent filled, the
capacity and quality of health staff, types and quality of health
services have declined significantly since March and remaining
organizations are unable to address the caseload in the long term,
according to WHO. Although the Ministry of Health (MoH) has
provided assistance in some areas previously served by expelled
NGOs, WHO reported that MoH staff lack appropriate medications,
coordination, and supervision to replace expelled international
partners.

-- Livelihoods: The March NGO expulsions removed nearly all
USAID/OFDA-funded livelihoods programs from South Darfur, including
community centers, fuel-efficient stoves, farmer trainings, and seed
distributions. Following the March expulsions, FAO and other
organizations worked to fill the livelihoods gap of 160,617
households left by suspended and expelled NGOs; however, remaining
organizations have served only 56,759 households, leaving a gap of
more than 100,000 households to be covered by the Ministry of
Agriculture. In addition, several NGOs are conducting assessments
to determine the possibility of providing livelihoods activities to
South Darfur IDPs before the end of the year.

12. (SBU) COMMENT. During the last five years, relief staff have
observed seasonal returns in Darfur during the planting season.
With the arrival of the November harvest season, Darfur typically
experiences an increase in violence, banditry, and attacks on
farmers harvesting seasonal crops. As the 2009 harvest season
approaches, it is in the interest of the Sudanese government and
international donors to work to mitigate the seasonal spike in
violence and protect civilian populations throughout Darfur.
Possible efforts could include encouraging community dialogue
between different ethnic groups, requesting additional UN patrols in
agricultural areas, and liaising with armed opposition groups to
encourage a reduction of violent attacks. Such confidence-building
measures may potentially have longer-term impacts of increasing food
security in Darfur and taking a step to affirming civilian safety
outside of IDP camps and IDP gathering areas.

13. (SBU) The current stability of the South Darfur humanitarian
situation is a credit to international donors and humanitarian
agencies. Humanitarian staff noted; however, that present measures
are not sustainable and the situation requires vigilant attention to
develop long-term solutions and respond to any interim emergencies.

KHARTOUM 00000979 004 OF 004


END COMMENT.

WHITEHEAD

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