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Cablegate: Gender-Based Violence: Progress in Darfur and Northern

VZCZCXRO4211
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1177/01 2930548
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200548Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4587
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001177

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SMIG UN SU
SUBJECT: Gender-Based Violence: Progress in Darfur and Northern
Sudan

1. (SBU) Summary: In an October 3 meeting with USAID's Office of
U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the U.N. Population
Fund (UNFPA) noted recent legal and organizational progress on
sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), including extending legal
protections to women throughout northern Sudan. UNFPA' efforts in
this regard complement the U.S. Government's (USG) increased
engagement on GBV issues. End Summary.

----------------------------------------
LEGAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL PROGRESS ON GBV
----------------------------------------

2. (U) On October 3, a USAID/OFDA officer met with UNFPA staff for
an update on GBV work in Darfur and northern Sudan more generally.
Under the U.N. cluster roll-out in progress in Darfur, UNFPA will
lead the subgroup on GBV that is part of the U.N. Protection
Cluster, led by the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF). UNFPA also leads
the Reproductive Health (RH) subgroup of the U.N. Health Cluster,
led by the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO). The combined
subgroup lead responsibilities place UNFPA in a unique coordination
and advocacy role to advance a GBV agenda with the justice, health,
and social welfare ministries.

3. (U) Following the Government of Sudan's (GOS) expulsion of 13
international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in March 2009,
the GBV sector lost virtually all of its implementing capacity and
activities slowed measurably. Women's centers closed, livelihoods
activities ceased, and case reporting on GBV declined. Hundreds of
outreach workers were laid off. Despite these setbacks, UNFPA
staff told USAID/OFDA that significant recent successes offered hope
for continued GBV work in Sudan.

4. (SBU) UNFPA indicated that state officials' attitudes may be
changing regarding GBV programs. Following a change in leadership
at the South Darfur Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) after March
2009, rape kits, which previously could not be distributed in the
state, are now dispatched along with other medicines. [Note: The
new head of the South Darfur HAC, Jamal Yousif Idriss, received
training from UNFPA in prior years on GBV awareness and is
considered 'friendly' to the sector. End note.] In North Darfur,
the HAC has authorized the re-establishment of nine women's centers,
while in West Darfur, UNFPA has GNU approval to revitalize a women's
center in Krindig IDP camp as a pilot project, including a GBV
training curriculum.

5. (SBU) UNFPA's strategy, which has been successful to date,
depoliticizes rape by focusing on the medical aspects. As the lead
in the RH subgroup, UNFPA focuses on the minimum service standards
(MISP), which include treatment of GBV. The MOH accepts MISP as
part of its basic health strategy, and the GBV work by association
with MISP.

6. (SBU) UNFPA emphasized that the legal environment for protection
of rape victims remains weak overall in Sudan. The Armed Forces Act
of 2007 and Police Act of 2008 both provide immunity for police and
armed services, and there remains a strong culture of denial of the
existence of rape by non-medical authorities. However, there are a
few encouraging changes at the federal level. The violence against
women unit at the Ministry of Justice has announced that Circular 2,
which outlines legal rights for GBV victims, will cover not only
Darfur, but also the rest of Northern Sudan. This is recognition
that violence against women is not unique to Darfur but affects
women throughout northern Sudan. Further, UNFPA says the GNU is
taking steps to no longer require submission of Form 8 before a
victim may seek medical treatment. Currently, victims must submit
Form 8 to access medical treatment for rape. Abolishing the Form 8
requirement will go a long way to alleviating the stigma and shame
that accompanies rape in Sudan, which has discouraged women from
seeking treatment. [Note: U.N. partners in the south are similarly
working to remove the Form 8 requirement. End Note.]

7. (SBU) UNFPA noted that UNICEF has helped establish Family Child
Protection Units in a number of areas, including Kadugli and Kassala
towns, Khartoum North and Omdurman cities. The units are designed
to be places to report violence against children and women and
provide psychosocial support and medical attention for victims.
While not fully operational due to lack of staff and equipment, the
spaces exist and represent a step forward.

8. (SBU) UNFPA further stated that the GNU Ministry of Justice is
drafting a five-year national action plan on GBV. UNFPA and the
UNDP rule-of-law division are involved to ensure that the action

KHARTOUM 00001177 002 OF 002


plan is consistent with relevant international law and standards.
The first draft of the plan is not perfect, UNFPA admits, but is
better than no plan at all. The existence of a plan offers the U.N.
and Sudanese lawyers a standard of accountability against which to
measure government actions. U.N. organizations would prefer a plan
that could be reviewed on an annual basis, giving civil society
groups and the opportunity to provide feedback and advocate for
additional elements. UNFPA has provided USAID with a copy of the
current draft.

---------------------
OBSTACLES TO GBV WORK
---------------------

9. (SBU) Some of the technical obstacles UNFPA encounters include
the high turnover of Ministry of Health staff, police, and others
who require training. However, high turnover means that hundreds of
individuals have been sensitized and given skills to deal with GBV.
UNFPA also trains U.N.-African Union Hybrid Operations in Darfur
(UNAMID) staff, but the huge number of individuals, especially
UNAMID police, that need training has led UNFPA to create a training
of trainers module that is proving quite effective. UNFPA's main
constraint is securing funding for Darfur field office staff and
supporting non-UNAMID trainings. UNFPA commented that donors are
reluctant to fund training if a measurable correlation between
training and improvement in rape treatment is not catalogued. UNFPA
says that the sensitivity of reporting numbers and details of rape
cases prevent statistical reporting about victims and treatment.
UNFPA reported no difficulties in raising funds to purchase and
distribute rape kits.

10. (SBU) Comment: UNFPA is optimistic about the progress in
Darfur on GBV issues despite the generally gloomy operating
environment in Darfur. While NGOs have difficulty working in this
area, the state and federal level governments' increasing acceptance
of UNFPA is very significant. One of the UNFPA staff in the October
3 meeting was a former International Rescue Committee staff member
who was asked to leave due to her GBV work in 2008. She has since
worked for UNFPA in Nyala without any government interference. The
new humanitarian space is the result of careful UNFPA interactions
with government counterparts.

11. (SBU) Comment continued: The U.S. Congress has shown
heightened interest and concern about GBV, and has dispatched
Congressional and staff delegations to Sudan who have followed up on
sector progress. The Secretary of State has highlighted the issue
in messages to the field and during her visits to Africa. The USG
will remain engaged in GBV issues in Sudan by supporting UNFPA's
progress toward the acceptance of GBV as a legal and medical issue
that deserves the attention of federal and state governments in
Sudan. End Comment.

WHITEHEAD

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