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Cablegate: Unicef in Chad: Child Soldiers, Malnutrition, And

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RR RUEHBC RUEHBZ RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHKUK RUEHMA
RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNJ #0476/01 2990809
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260809Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7353
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NDJAMENA 000476

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/C, S/USSES, PRM/AFR
NSC FOR GAVIN
LONDON FOR POL - LORD
PARIS FOR POL - BAIN AND KANEDA
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR AU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PHUM SOCI PREL PREF CD SO
SUBJECT: UNICEF IN CHAD: CHILD SOLDIERS, MALNUTRITION, AND
OTHER CHALLENGES

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) UNICEF's Deputy Executive Director briefed
Ambassador October 19 on UNICEF's main challenges in Chad in
coming months. Johnson addressed child-soldiers in Chad,
saying that UNICEF is working with the GOC ministries of
Defense, Interior, and Social Affairs on child soldiers in
the Chadian armed forces, in rebel groups operating from
Chad, and rebel groups operating against Chad from Sudan.
The GOC had turned over for demobilization some 800-1,000
child soldiers - all from rebel groups - in 2009, although
few few girls were among them; and UNICEF had not been able
to work with non-state actors such as anti-GoC rebel forces
still operating in Sudan. She underlined that UNICEF's next
focus would be the children within the Chadian armed forces.
She emphasized that eastern Chad is moving away from a
"conflict-driven crisis" toward a more "sustainable" phase,
although resource constraints and criminality would continue
to be a part of that equation. She highlighted the emerging
problem of persistent malnutrition in western Chad emerging
in the next six months, particularly the area of Kanem and
polio-eradication efforts.

2. (SBU) Embassy officers continue to bring up the issue of
child-soldiers in Chadian forces at every opportunity with
our GOC interlocutors and other diplomatic missions, urging
the GOC to make greater efforts to collaborate with UNICEF
and MINURCAT to identify child soldiers in government ranks
and to remove them from any role, whether armed or unarmed,
in military or police contexts. END SUMMARY.

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AFTER THE CRISIS -
STILL CHALLENGES
------------------

3. (SBU) UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde Frafjord
Johnson and Country Representative Marzio Babille briefed
Ambassador Oct 19 on the results Johnson's week-long visit to
Chad. Johnson had spent the week in western Chad, in the
areas of Kanem and Moussoro, the location of a child soldier
demobilization center; had toured the Eastern Chad camps for
refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs); traveled to
southern Chad in the area of relatively new population
movements around Daha and Haraze; and met with key
ministerial partners. She briefed on UNICEF's child
protection mandate and her findings in Chad.

4. (SBU) Johnson said that UNICEF shared growing sense that
eastern Chad had ceased to fall into the "crisis/emergency"
category and was now in the "sustainable" situation category.
She said UNICEF was discussing strategies to link this
transition from crisis to a more developmenmtally-oriented
approach to the provision of services in the east, while
working on pre-positioning supplies for "the next crisis -
which we know is coming" in an area where drought-induced
conflict over scarce resources is endemic. She said UNICEF
at the same time would be widening focus to ensure other
regions of Chad where child survival challenges were cropping
up are receiving appropriate investment, especially in the
western/Sahelian Kanem region, where rising malnutrition
rates threatened to hit children and women hard. She noted
very poor rains over the last months, requiring a
comprehensive intervention program, with malnutrition as the
priority.

5. (SBU) Ms. Johnson stated that UNICEF was also focusing on
a rise in polio risk in Chad (in partnership with USAID), and
would expand its own capacity in Chad, working with the
Ministry of Health (MoH). She stressed that these challenges
especially needed more investment from the Government of Chad
(GoC), and asked that Ambassador help in safeguarding current
and future budgetary appropriations for health-related
activities. Johnson noted that the newly pointed Minister of
Health, while a medical doctor by training, appeared to have
no significant experience in management or public
administration. She speculated that he may find himself
pitted against entrenched interest groups in various MoH
departments, based on kinship or geographically-determined

NDJAMENA 00000476 002 OF 002


alliances. Johnson said UNICEF is trying to present a
unified message to all groups within the ministry, and hoped
for USG support in promoting a cohesive response to health
needs in Chad.

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CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT IN CHAD
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Ms. Johnson recalled that UNICEF has worked under
child protection mandates of two UNSCRs - 1612, 1882. She
noted that child recruitment into armed conflict and the
USG-driven UNSCR 1888 on sexual violence against children in
conflict are new triggers for UNICEF intervention, with theQdate to conduct the field monitoring work for all aspects
of child protection. She noted that, with these additional
areas of international focus, the UN SYG had created and
would soon name a new SRSG for sexual violence.

7. (SBU) According to Johnson, UNICEF is working with
Defense, Interior, and Social Affairs on the issue of child
soldiers in both the Chadian armed forces and in rebel groups
operating from Chad or against Chad. The GOC had turned over
for demobilization some 800-1,000 child soldiers - all from
rebel groups - in 2009. Unfortunately, few girls were turned
over (although many were exploited in rebel and government
military forces); and UNICEF had not been able to work with
non-state actors such as anti-GoC rebel forces still
operating in Sudan. Ms. Johnson noted that demobilized
children would require better monitoring after they had
graduated from their rehabilitation period and gone home.
She said UNICEF's next focus would be the children she
believes are present within the Chadian armed forces.

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GENDER AND SEXUALLY-BASED
VIOLENCE IN CHAD
---------------------------

8. (SBU) Ms. Johnson called attention to the UN's nascent
Sexual Violence Reporting Mechanism, stating that the
international community needed to be more aggressive in
pursuing information on violations, and in publicizing
findings. She noted that recent reports on the subject have
led some to conclude that refugee camps are the problem,
whereas in reality many in the GoC as "in complete denial"
about the pervasiveness of gender and sexually-based violence
in Chad, regardless of refugee populations. She said
concerted effort would be needed to break through the wall of
denial.

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COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) Embassy officers continue to bring up the issue of
child-soldiers in Chadian forces at every opportunity with
our GOC interlocutors and other diplomatic missions, urging
the GOC to make greater efforts to collaborate with UNICEF
and MINURCAT to identify child soldiers in government ranks
and to remove them from any role, whether armed or unarmed,
in military or police contexts, and urging other diplomatic
missions to do the same.
NIGRO

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