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Cablegate: Hac Commissioner Reportedly Announces Planned Closure Of

VZCZCXRO0222
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1298 3211152
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171152Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4753
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001298

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC EAID PREF PHUM SOCI SMIG UN SU
SUBJECT: HAC COMMISSIONER REPORTEDLY ANNOUNCES PLANNED CLOSURE OF
DARFUR IDP CAMPS

REFS: a)05 Khartoum 772; b)07 Khartoum 1680; c)08 Khartoum 1300

1. (SBU) Summary: According to November 10 and 11 local media
reports, Government of National Unity (GNU) Humanitarian Aid
Commission (HAC) Commissioner Hassabo Abdel-Rahman announced on
UN-sponsored radio that the Sudanese government is planning to close
Darfur internally displaced person (IDP) camps by early 2010.
However, when Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary
General (DSRSG) Ameerah Haq questioned the HAC Commissioner about
the announcement, Hassabo claimed that he was misquoted and that
returns would not be forced. In a November 16 meeting with members
of the U.S. Special Envoy's (SE) office, Hassabo reiterated support
for IDPs' voluntary choice to return but continued to outline only
two choices for Darfuri IDPs, government-provided housing blocks or
return to villages. The UN is considering issuing a statement
emphasizing international standards for voluntary and appropriate
returns. End summary.

2. (U) According to English-language media outlets Sudan Tribune and
Khartoum Monitor, Hassabo announced to UN-sponsored Miraya FM radio
on November 10 that the Sudanese government plans to close IDP camps
in the greater Darfur region by early 2010. The independent,
Arabic-language daily Al-Sahafa quoted the HAC Commissioner as
stating that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is "converting aid
money to a service program to rehabilitate villages." According to
the Al-Sahafa report, the government is constructing 20,000 housing
units for IDPs in El Fasher, North Darfur; El Geneina, West Darfur;
and Nyala, South Darfur. (Note: None of the media reports clearly
indicates whether the government construction campaign will include
a total of 60,000 units, with 20,000 in each state, or only a total
of 20,000 units. In either case, the government's proposed housing
units, if constructed, would provide housing for a very small
proportion of the IDP population, currently estimated at 2.7 million
individuals. End note).

3. (U) In addition, the Miraya FM report indicates that Hassabo
outlined two choices for IDPs, either to return to villages of
origin or move into new housing complexes. Hassabo did not specify
the consequences for rejecting these options. The Sudan Tribune and
Khartoum Monitor reports include strong statements from armed
opposition group leaders condemning the HAC announcement.

4. (SBU) On November 12, USAID Mission Director William Hammink
discussed the recent media reports with DSRSG Ameerah Haq. DSRSG
Haq had approached Hassabo regarding the announcement on November
11, and the HAC Commissioner confirmed announcing the construction
of housing units in the Darfur capitals but strongly denied that the
government intended to force IDPs to return to villages of origin or
move to the housing units. Hassabo asserted that Miraya FM had
misquoted him and affirmed to DSRSG Haq the importance of voluntary
and appropriate returns. The DSRSG also informed USAID that the UN
is considering issuing a statement to emphasize international
standards for voluntary and appropriate returns. In a November 16
meeting with SE office staff, Hassabo reiterated support for
voluntary returns but continued to outline only two choices for
Darfuri IDPs, government-provided housing blocks or return to
villages. Hassabo requested additional donor support to rural areas
to prevent IDPs from aborting returns in favor of camp services.

5. (SBU) Comment: The Sudanese government has made multiple
attempts to dismantle large, urban camps in Darfur dating back to
the onset of the Darfur crisis (see reftels). This latest media
story on forced IDP returnees has been refuted by Mr. Hassabo, but
it does indicate continued GOS intentions to force choices on the
IDPs, i.e. government-provided housing in towns or return to
villages of origin. Post continues to urge the Sudanese government
to abide by international principles for returns and closely monitor
the situation.

WHITEHEAD

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