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Cablegate: Se Gration September 12 Visit to El Fasher

DE RUEHKH #1104/01 2720948
O 290948Z SEP 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On September 12, SE Gration and delegation
traveled to El Fasher, Darfur and visited two camps for internally
displaced persons (IDPs). Abu Shouk camp residents told SE Gration
that their security and humanitarian needs were not being met.
North Darfur Wali (Governor) Osman Kibir presented SE Gration and
delegation with attractively printed booklets that claimed that
crime in Darfur was at a six-year low. At Zam Zam camp, Gration
spoke with Relief International and World Food Program
representatives, who said that they were adequately equipped to
provide humanitarian services to the IDPs. International
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) said that skirmishes and
bombings continued, and echoed IDP concerns about security and
government interference in their activities. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On September 12, 2009, SE Gration and delegation traveled
to Abu Shouk and Zam Zam IDP camps, both in the vicinity of El
Fasher. SE Gration first met with 14 key leaders from Abu Shouk,
Kassab, and As Salam IDP camps who expressed their frustration with
the security situation, stating with UNAMID not doing an effective
job in their eyes, security is the biggest need of Darfuris. These
leaders, including three women, expressed their concerns over
perceptions that SE Gration wants IDPs to return to their homes
before they are ready. Mohamed Adam, a teacher and Omda in the Abu
Shouk camp, stated that despite these concerns, "Still, we see you
and the United States just after God for us. We need you to help
us." SE Gration next visited IDPs in Abu Shouk camp. During two
forums targeting various segments of the camp population, he heard
similar concerns about security problems, gender-based violence, and
humanitarian aid shortages. Camp residents asserted that all
measurable indicators of IDP welfare had deteriorated substantially
since the expulsion of thirteen international NGOs in March 2009.
Residents of Abu Shouk mutually raised concerns about perceptions
that SE Gration wanted forced returns of IDPs to their home
villages, until he clarified that no one would be forced to return
against his or her will, or before s/he was ready. This statement
was received with loud applause. SE Gration assured camp residents
that he had not said he wanted to lift sanctions on Khartoum, or to
remove Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. (NOTE: A
number of Sudanese media outlets have recently reported that SE
Gration intends to lift sanctions on Khartoum. END NOTE.) In his
final stop at a women's development project run by the Darfur Peace
and Development Organization in Abu Shouk, SE Gration observed a
group of women weaving baskets to sell and sampled some rice
prepared in a "solar cooker," a simple, affordable device that
allows women to prepare traditional foods at home without taking the
risk of collecting firewood outside the camp, which puts them at
risk of rape.

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3. (SBU) Following the visit to Abu Shouk, SE Gration paid a
courtesy call on North Darfur Wali Osman Kibir. The Wali welcomed
the delegation, and reiterated his desire to cooperate with the
United States. The Wali painted a comparatively rosy picture of
North Darfur, describing enhanced security and humanitarian
projects, and illustrated his points by passing out several copies
of attractive colorful booklet, full of graphs and statistics that
showed that North Darfur was enjoying a specQular drop in crime
and violence. The Wali assured the delegates that they would be
allowed to travel freely during their visit, and he asked SE Gration
to address an assembly of local National Congress Party (NCP)
leaders taking place on the compound. SE Gration thanked the North
Darfur Wali and delivered a few words to the crowd of NCP leaders,
in which he called on them to use their influence to bring an end to
the proxy war between Chad and Sudan.

4. (SBU) The delegation departed the Wali's compound and proceeded
to the Zam Zam IDP camp, located twenty kilometers from Abu Shouk, a
camp Gration last visited in April, 2009 (ref: A). At that time the
camp was in upheaval due to the recent influx of 40,000 IDPs from
the village of Muhajariyah and the nearly simultaneous expulsion of
thirteen international NGOs from Darfur. SE Gration found the
current situation in Zam Zam improved. Residents now have
rudimentary shelter and water sources, as well as access to medical
care and food rations. SE Gration spoke to Dr. Jamila Karimova,
head of the Relief International clinic in Zam Zam, who told him
that four clinics currently operating in Zam Zam serve a combined
1,000 patients per week. Dr. Karimova said that camp residents have
adequate access to medical care but expressed her concerns that the
hastily assembled camp had not been planned to accommodate basic
sanitation needs. She also said that Relief International had been
denied access to South Darfur. Dr. Karimova showed SE Gration the
brick foundations for a new permanent clinic being built by Relief
International. From the construction site, SE Gration and
delegation walked to one of several new "water points" (public bore
wells) dug in a joint project between the Government of Sudan and

KHARTOUM 00001104 002 OF 002

non-governmental organizations. SE Gration noted that on his last
visit, the wells had not been there.

5. (SBU) At the final stop in Zam Zam camp, SE Gration visited a
food distribution site run by the World Food Program (WFP). Leo
VanderVelden, head of North Darfur's WFP office, told SE Gration
that WFP currently feeds 1.5 million IDPs in Darfur, and that the
distribution site in Zam Zam supplies food rations to approximately
100,000 camp residents. Residents receive twelve kilograms of food
per month, mostly dry, unmilled grain. VanderVelden told SE Gration
that rations are rarely stolen from the distribution center, since
they are protected by a community watch organization. He said,
however, that residents often sell a portion of their rations in the
market to buy other necessities. He also said that residents hire
millers residing within the camp to grind the grain rations for an
in-kind fee of one third of the ration milled. WFP will start a
voucher program in October that will compensate the millers but
allow residents to keep all of their grain. SE Gration asked why
WFP doesn't distribute pre-milled grain. VanderVelden answered that
the millers themselves were IDPs and the WFP does not want to deny
them their livelihood. Leaving the camp, the delegation convoy
passed several small gardens in which camp residents were growing
millet, albeit in very sparse quantities.

6. (SBU) Back in El Fasher, SE Gration visited an assembly of
several dozen camp administrators from the UN and various
International NGOs. The camp administrators stated that the
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) continue to bomb rebel strongholds in
Darfur, and that rebels continue to skirmish between factions. Ute
Kirsch, from Malteser International, told SE Gration that local
security forces insisted that NGOs obtain permits to travel
throughout Darfur, despite the fact that they were only officially
required to "notify" the government of their travel plans. Several
speakers at the assembly expressed concerns that the Sudanese
government had failed to provide adequate security to aid workers,
encouraging four cases of kidnapping and a rash of carjackings to
occur. SE Gration warned the camp administrators that the coming
elections and North-South issues might divert the attentions of
advocacy groups away from Darfur. He added that we need to find a
resolution to the conflict Darfur, including resolving the security
situation, within the next three months if there is to be any chance
of Darfur participating in the national elections. SE Gration
expressed his hope to see more sustainable development and job
creation for the camp residents, so that IDPs could begin to live
independently of UN assistance. He informed the camp administrators
that he believed the Sudanese government is ready and willing to
cooperate with the United States and NGO community to stabilize the
situation in Darfur. However, he acknowledged that a great deal of
time has elapsed since the beginning of the Darfur crisis, and said
that with each passing day it becomes harder for IDPs to return to
their old way of life.

7. (U) This cable was cleared by the Office of the Special Envoy.


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