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Cablegate: Darfur: Humanitarian Situation in Jebel Marra

VZCZCXRO4192
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0336/01 0571218
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 261216Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0289
INFO DARFUR COLLECTIVE
IGAD COLLECTIVE
UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000336

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
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: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SMIG UN SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR: HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN JEBEL MARRA

REF: 10 KHARTOUM 282; 10 KHARTOUM 254; 09 KHARTOUM 487

1. (SBU) Summary: Fighting between members of the armed opposition
group Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) and the Sudanese
Armed Forces (SAF) in Jebel Marra, an area transecting all three
Darfur states, remains ongoing and has extended to the SLA/AW
stronghold of Deribat, according to humanitarian sources. However,
the full scale and scope of fighting remain unknown due to lack of
access to affected areas. On February 25, the Acting UN
Humanitarian Coordinator hosted a high-level donors meeting to
share information regarding the humanitarian situation in Jebel
Marra and to commence discussions regarding possible response
strategies. The number of people affected remains unknown and
relief agencies continue to plan for humanitarian needs assessments
and response activities pending access to affected populations. End
Summary.

-----------------------------------
RECENT CONFLICT IN JEBEL MARRA
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Humanitarian organizations report that between February 10
and 25 fighting occurred between SAF and members of the armed
opposition group SLA/AW in Kara, Leiba, Fugoli, Feina, Kidingeer
and Deribat towns in the eastern Jebel Marra area of Darfur
resulting in an unknown number of casualties. Relief agencies
indicate that fighting continues in Deribat, and that affected
areas remain unstable due to a pattern of continued attacks and
attempts to regain control of affected areas. According to the UN,
combatants had conducted attacks by land; however, February 25
reports indicate the possibility of broadened military tactics
including the use of SAF aircraft and helicopters gunships.

3. On February 24, UN sources received reports of an imminent SAF
attack on SLA/AW forces in Deribat, also indicating that local
people had fled the village. (Note: Deribat serves as a de facto
civil administration and sometime military headquarters for SLA/AW
in the "liberated zone" of East Jebel Marra. Special Envoy Gration
visited Deribat in April 2009 (ref C). End Note.) At noon, SAF
forces reportedly entered the abandoned village and allegedly
looted, burned, and destroyed structures including water sources.

4. (SBU) Conflict also occurred among SLA/AW factions in the
western Jebel Marra area of Darfur between late December 2009 and
early February 2010 resulting in an unknown number of internally
displaced persons (IDP). IDP leaders and Sudanese government
authorities reported that fighting had resulted in approximately
35,000 displaced people; however, humanitarian agencies have been
unable to independently verify this figure. UN agencies have
commenced response activities in areas where relief agencies can
access IDPs and plan to expand response activities pending access
to affected areas and verification of displacement.

----------------------
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
----------------------

5. (SBU). During the February 25 meeting, the UN reported that the
number of people killed, injured, and displaced by ongoing fighting
remains unknown. The UN stated that between 100,000 and 120,000
people reside in eastern Jebel Marra where fighting continues. The
UN suggested that Deribat will likely experience the greatest
population displacement due to the intensity of attacks reported in
the area. Humanitarian agencies raise concern that populations
that have reportedly fled into the hill areas of Jebel Marra may
become trapped by continued fighting and will remain inaccessible
to relief agencies.

6. (SBU). According to the UN and humanitarian partners, fighting
has resulted in looting of relief agency offices, residences, and
facilities, including health clinics and water distribution points.
In addition, combatants have reportedly seized health assets in
particular, resulting in a possible shortage of health supplies for
affected populations.

----------------------
HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

KHARTOUM 00000336 002 OF 002


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

7. (SBU) The UN plans to conduct an interagency assessment mission
to the affected areas of eastern Jebel Marra during the first week
of March. However, the UN remains concerned regarding lack of
access due to ongoing fighting, particularly in Deribat. The
humanitarian community continues to endeavor to gain access to
affected areas noting a requirement for high-level coordination
given that fighting has affected populations in all three Darfur
states. In addition, the UN noted that the situation may require
increased advocacy to obtain a cease-fire for the purpose of
developing a humanitarian corridor.

8. (SBU) The UN noted that access to affected populations is
additionally reduced by the diminishing presence of humanitarian
staff in areas of conflict. On February 11, the UN relocated 27
humanitarian staff members by air from Feina, Deribat, and
Kidingeer to Nyala, South Darfur due to continued fighting, further
reducing field staff presence and access to affected populations.

9. (SBU) Comment: The UN expressed concern that the loss of SLA/AW
control in some areas may result in continued and increasing
displacement due to the local population's loyalty to SLA/AW. End
comment.
ASQUINO

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