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Cablegate: World Food Program Southern Somlia Operations Update

VZCZCXRO7267
PP RUEHRN
DE RUEHRN #0003/01 0131935
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131935Z JAN 10
FM USMISSION UN ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1247
INFO RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0031
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0286
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0345
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0446
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 1324

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 UN ROME 000003

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR IO/HS, PRM/MCE AND EEB/IFD/ODA
USAID FOR DCHA, FFP, OFDA, AND AFRICA BUREAU
NAIROBI FOR GEORGIANNA PLATT, SUREKA KHANDAGLE AND NICK COX
TREASURY FOR DAN PETERSON, LIZA MORRIS AND PRIYA GANDHI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: WFP SO AORC EAID PREF EFIN UNHCR
SUBJECT: WORLD FOOD PROGRAM SOUTHERN SOMLIA OPERATIONS UPDATE

REF: A. (A) STATE 132604
B. (B) UN ROME 01
C. (C) UN ROME 77

1. (U) This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

---------------
Summary
---------------


2. (SBU) On January 12 the UN World Food Program presented an
update on the current situation in southern Somalia to the
Executive Board following WFP's partial suspension of operations
announced on January 5 resulting from escalation of attacks and
threats on WFP staff. WFP is still able to provide assistance
to one half million IDPs in the Afgoye region and Mogadishu, but
expressed uncertainty as to how much longer they would have
access to Afgoye. The program will do all possible to continue
operations. WFP's latest concerns are the recent skirmishes in
Dhuusamarreeb, Galgaduud which have forced WFP to redeploy staff
to the north in Adado and a new foreign element within
Al-Shabaab with ties to Al Qaeda. WFP leadership, based on
recent observations in southern Somalia, believes that with
encouragement from community elders there is hope for a
turnaround in the stance of militants who forced WFP to suspend
operations. WFP will provide a weekly situation report (sitrep)
in response to Board member requests for updates during the
consultation. The first sitrep is attached at paragraph 11 of
this cable.

---------------

Somalia Update with New Concerns and A Glimmer of Hope

---------------

3. (SBU) At a WFP informal consultation on January 12 attended
by the UN Rome Ambassador, Deputy Executive Director (DED) Amir
Abdulla and Chief Operating Officer and Director of Emergencies
Ramiro Lopes da Silva updated the Executive Board on the current
situation in southern Somalia. Donors had requested a
consultation following escalation of threats and attacks on WFP
staff and unacceptable demands placed on the organization by
armed groups leading up to WFP'S announcement of partial
suspension of operations on January 5.

4. (SBU) In southern Somalia, WFP continues its work servicing
approximately one million beneficiaries in Mogadishu, where
relative calm exists, and Afgoye. Afgoye remains a humanitarian
imperative as approximately 500,000 internally displaced persons
(IDPs) have access neither to food nor alternative livelihoods.
WFP is not sure of how much longer they will be able to access
Afgoye, where transport routes require that WFP cross Al-Shabaab
militant lines, but reassured that they will do all possible to
continue to assist beneficiaries.

5. (SBU) Alternative transport routes for humanitarian aid to
reach Mogadishu and Afgoye are being explored. Airdrop of food
has not yet been deemed necessary. Depending on access to
Afgoye and movement of IDPs, airdrops could be necessary in as
early as three weeks time. However, WFP predicts that should
they be required to suspend distribution in Afgoye, IDPs would
most likely move to Mogadishu.

6. (SBU) Prior to suspension of operations, WFP completed as
much advance distribution of food stocks as possible, although
some was seized by Al-Shabaab, with the remainder of food stocks
and equipment repositioned to other WFP locations in the north
of Somalia where storage capacity at WFP warehouses has been
increased. No food stocks were left behind.

UN ROME 00000003 002 OF 004

7. (SBU) New concerns were communicated over recent skirmishes
in Dhuusamarreeb, Galgaduud, which has forced WFP to redeploy
staff to the north in Adado. WFP also noted their concern on a
growing foreign element in Al-Shabaab, formerly local and
clan-based; the Shura or command center of the organization is
now headed by a Comorian national named Abdul Fazul, believed to
be an Al Qaeda operative with links to the 1998 U.S. Embassy
bombings in Kenya. WFP further stated that the situation has
been made more complex by the fact they are no longer dealing
with a decentralized group, but one that is more tightly
controlled under central command and thus cannot be dealt with
locally. With cautious optimism, the WFP COO observed that since
WFP's departure after suspension of operations in the south,
their absence is being noticed and with encouragement from
community elders and/or clan pressure, there remains hope that
hardliners will reverse their stance against WFP and allow them
to resume operations.

---------------

WFP Current Strategy

---------------

8. (SBU) Several Executive Board members wondered whether
other actors on the ground in Somalia could step in where WFP
has suspended operations. In reviewing their current strategy/
actions, WFP indicated that they have alerted other
organizations with programs in Somalia such as the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has a limited presence
mainly in the north. NGO operators in central and southern
Somalia, however, have small capacities and would be unable to
assume a large-scale operation. Furthermore, the current ban on
foreign food means all imports through any organization would be
prohibited. Notwithstanding predictions of a good harvest,
Somalia remains a food deficit country (local production has
averaged 30 percent of food needs in the last five years) and
local purchase would have debilitating effects on markets.

9. (SBU) With the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
WFP is assessing the potential movement in a worst-case scenario
of one half million refugees out of central and southern
Somalia: 200,000 would become internally displaced; 150,000
would displace to Kenya; 50,000 to Ethiopia; 30,000 to Djibouti;
and 75,000 to Yemen. All refugee movement will depend on the
length of WFP's suspension. WFP has a large presence in each of
these possible IDP destination countries. If IDP movement
occurs the resources programmed for Somalia would be switched to
the appropriate country. WFP and UNHCR will jointly lead a
regional contingency planning exercise before the end of
January.

10. (SBU) A further strategy involves continuing to improve the
logistics chain from north to central Somalia. In addition to
moving product from Mombasa to Bossasso, WFP has opened a new
distribution channel from Salalah, Oman to Bossasso. WFP
communicated some of the challenges this northern route creates
including the need to improve port capacity at Bossasso. The
northern route also presents security concerns because of the
Somaliland areas controlled by pirates as well as the issues of
transport through the Red Sea.

---------------

Conditions for Normal Operations

---------------


UN ROME 00000003 003 OF 004


11. (SBU) WFP concluded that in order to return to normal
operations, three conditions would be necessary: 1) previous
conditions set out by controlling authorities for humanitarian
agencies to operate must be rescinded (dismissal of all female
staff, no identification of WFP in any way, required payments of
$30,000 every six months for `operating license'); 2) the ban on
imported food must be lifted; and 3) guarantees must be put in
place for the safety of WFP staff.

---------------

Situation Report

---------------

12. (SBU) In response to Board member requests to be updated
weekly, the following sitrep was disseminated to the Executive
Board on January 13.

"WFP Somalia Operations Situation

As of January 11, 2010

Summary Update

-WFP has suspended its work in much of Southern Somalia due to
escalating threats against WFP staff, and unacceptable demands
by the armed groups controlling the area. WFP issued a statement
on the 5 January which stated that it `is deeply concerned about
rising hunger and suffering among the most vulnerable due to
these unprecedented and inhumane attacks on purely humanitarian
operations.' WFP is repositioning stocks in case people begin to
move in search of food. WFP offices in Waajid, Buaale,
Garbahaarey, Jilib, and Beletwein in the south are temporarily
closed, and staff has been moved to safer locations in central
Somalia and Kenya.

- Despite the temporary suspension of its operations in parts of
the south, WFP continues to provide life-saving food
distributions to the rest of the country or to over two-thirds
of the people in need, including 1.8 million people in
Mogadishu. NOTE: 1.8 million should refer to the number of
beneficiaries WFP is feeding in all of Somalia and UN ROME has
asked WFP to send a corrected version of the situation report.

The wet feeding programme in Mogadishu is ongoing in all 16
sites with sufficient stocks until end of January. 130 mt of
mixed food commodities are expected to be distributed next week
through the nutrition programme in Mogadishu. WFP will continue
with food distribution in Afgoye corridor from Mogadishu when
stocks are available.

Whereas UNHAS in-bound flights to Merka, K50, Wajid, Buaale and
Beletwein are suspended until further notice, WFP will continue
operations in Galkayo, Bossasso and Hargeisa. Flights to
Mogadishu will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Communities in affected areas are now putting pressures on TFG
and insurgents to allow for WFP to resume operations, which has
prompted Al Shabaab (AS) to issue a press statement denying its
responsibility for causing insecurity and demanding money from

UN ROME 00000003 004 OF 004


aid agencies, including WFP.

WFP Security Update

-WFP continues to monitor the security situation in Somalia and
support missions to the North. In Mogadishu, the threat of
suicide attacks remains high between the airport and KM 4.

-On January 7, four WFP staff (three national staff member and
one casual daily worker employed as local security assistant)
was relocated out of Wajid to Hargeisa.

-The same day, all movements for all UN staff members on
missions using the Garowe - Bossasso road have been restricted
with immediate effect. The decision is a precautionary measure
after the government announcement of the killing of the Puntland
MP on 5 January 2010. Security clearances for missions using the
Bossasso - Garowe road have been revoked.

-In Hargeisa, Bossasso and Galkayo, international staff members
are present and able to continue with programme activities.
COUSIN

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