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05DJIBOUTI926 2005-09-15 13:46:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

Talking about Katrina in Djibouti

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					UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 000926 


State for AF, AF/E, AF/PD; London/Paris for Africa Watcher

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Talking about Katrina in Djibouti

1. (U) SUMMARY: The country's largest circulation
newspaper, published on page one a letter in French from the
Ambassador expressing thanks to the Djiboutian government
and people for their support during Hurricane Katrina.
Misinformation in the country regarding the disaster seems to
revolve largely around the racial identity of those killed or
injured. END SUMMARY

2. (U) On September 13, La Nation, the country's largest
circulation newspaper published an open letter to the Djiboutian
government and people expressing thanks for Djibouti's support
during Hurricane Katrina. Text from the letter drew from guidance
issued by the Department (see para 5). The letter was paired with a
sympathetic story La Nation ran about September 11
commemorations in the U.S. Post also held a small ceremony and
moment of silence on September 11.

3. (U) In addition to the letter, PD has been addressing Katrina
misinformation by devoting 30 minutes of each of its nightly
conversation groups to answering questions about the disaster.
Questions in the groups seem to be of general concern, but one
reoccurring concern is the misperception that only African-
Americans died or were displaced. The Public Diplomacy officer
has used Department guidelines to answer questions in these
groups. These answers have led to interesting and insightful
questions about poverty, welfare and self-help.

4. (U) The Post-sponsored English language conversation groups
are currently active in five English night schools throughout
the city and six more schools are on a wait list. About 130 youth
ages 16-25 participate in the groups each week and discuss civic
topics with
native speakers from the Embassy and US military. The groups
continue to be an important aspect of PD's hearts and minds
campaign and a venue for sharing the US message while
simultaneously providing important insights into Djiboutian
culture and attitudes.

5. (U) An English translation of the Ambassador's letter follows.
Begin text:

I want to express the heartfelt thanks of the President, the
United States Government and all Americans, to the leaders
and citizens of Djibouti, for their kind and generous support in
the wake of Hurricane Katrina. More than 500,000 residents
have been affected by this disaster in the southeastern United
States that has destroyed cities, divided families and killed
untold numbers. We're touched and deeply grateful for
Djibouti's offer of assistance and the profound feelings of
friendship and sympathy that prompted it.

Support from our friends around the world is more important
than ever in the face of the long rebuilding process ahead. The
State Department is coordinating closely with the Department
of Homeland Security to match many generous offers of
international support with the needs of those affected.
Assistance will help with immediate evacuations, relocations
and repairs and well as longer-term needs as those areas and
citizens hit by Katrina recover and begin to rebuild their lives,
their families and their futures.

Recently, we have seen the American people respond
generously to help others around the globe during their times of
distress, such as during the recent tsunami. Today, we are
seeing a similar urgent, warm and compassionate reaction from
the international community in response to Katrina. Thank you
for reaching out to us and for your ongoing support and

Ambassador Marguerita Ragsdale
End text.

6. Minimize considered.