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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05NDJAMENA263
2005-02-20 12:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ndjamena
Cable title:  

RUMORS OF REFUGEES RETURNING TO SUDAN

Tags:   PHUM  PREF  KAWC  CD  SU 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

201214Z Feb 05

ACTION INR-00   

INFO  LOG-00   AF-00    AID-00   AMAD-00  CIAE-00  INL-00   DODE-00  
      PERC-00  EB-00    EUR-00   VC-00    H-00     TEDE-00  IO-00    
      L-00     CAC-00   VCE-00   NEA-00   NSAE-00  NSCE-00  OIC-00   
      NIMA-00  PA-00    GIWI-00  PRS-00   P-00     CFPP-00  FMPC-00  
      SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   TRSE-00  R-00     SCRS-00  
      PRM-00   DRL-00   G-00     SAS-00     /000W
                  ------------------BB71EB  201216Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1003
INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
DARFUR COLLECTIVE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 
USLO TRIPOLI 
USMISSION GENEVA
						C O N F I D E N T I A L  NDJAMENA 000263 

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR INR, AF, AF/C, AF/SPG, PRM, USAID/OTI;
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICAWATCHERS; GENEVA FOR CAMPBELL,
ADDIS/NAIROBI/KAMPALA FOR REFCOORDS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2014
TAGS: PHUM PREF KAWC CD SU
SUBJECT: RUMORS OF REFUGEES RETURNING TO SUDAN

REF: A. STATE 22293


B. NDJAMENA 04 2139

Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Kathleen FitzGibbon for reaso
ns 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: Per Ref A, P/E officer met with UNHCR
officials, representatives of the National Movement for
Reform and Democracy (NMRD), members of the Chad mediation
team on Darfur, African Union (AU) officials responsible for
Darfur, and members of the African Union Ceasefire Commission
to ascertain the veracity of rumors of a planned "safehaven"
inside Sudan to facilitate the return Sudanese refugees from
Chad. The African Union's Special Representative for Darfur
Sam Ibok told P/E officer on February 16 that the rumored
safehaven concept may have been presented or suggested to the
AU by France. No officials we spoke with believe the
creation of a safehaven is imminent or viable. End Summary.



2. (C) Post has previously reported on the safehaven idea in
Ref B. It was the "secret" part of an agreement signed
between the Government of Sudan and the National Movement for
Reform and Development (NMRD). In this "humanitarian"
protocol, the NMRD would prepare a suitable climate to
encourage the refugees to return back to their villages in
the safehaven zone. The NMRD would ensure their security.
P/E officer spoke with NMRD leader Norain Minawi on February
16 and Hasan Khamis on February 18. Norain Minawi told P/E
officer that discussions with local government officials in
early January in Tundunbai and Tine about the creation of a
safehaven did not go well. Local Chadian and Sudanese
leaders, with the exception of Sultan Hassan Birgo of
Tundunbai, doubted the feasibility of the idea and expressed
a strong preference for the refugees to remain in Chad, where
they are receiving assistance from the donors. (Comment:
Hassan Birgo is the point person for the Chadian and Sudanese
government officials who support the concept. End Comment.)



3. (C) A second NMRD leader, Hasan Khamis, told P/E officer
from Abeche on February 18 that the rank-and-file of the NMRD
does not agree with the "safehaven" idea and this is the
reason there is a conflict between the GOS and its creation,
the NMRD. He claimed that Norain Minawi is on the payroll of
the Sudanese Government, which wants to make it look like
conditions in Darfur are settling down. He refused to say
anything else over the telephone.



4. (C) African Union officials say the idea was recently
proposed by France and that the AU has not seriously
considered it. On the margins of the Joint Commission on the
Darfur Humanitarian Ceasefire on February 17, P/E officer
spoke with Ambassador Sam Ibok and the Chairman of the AU's
Ceasefire Commission MG Festus Okonkwo. MG Okonkwo said it
was foolish to think that the current security situation on
the ground would permit the return of refugees from Chad. He

told Ibok that any such proposal should be thrown away. P/E
officer echoed Okonkwo's views and asked for a copy of the
proposal if one actually exists on paper. Ibok said he would
try to track it down if it exists.



5. (C) In January, UNHCR's resident representative Anna Liria
Franch and Operations Manager Claire Bougouis reported a few
sightings of groups of refugees inside the Sudan border who
"spontaneously" returned on their own. Many carried
registration cards from Am Nabak refugee camp in Chad.
However, the reports of 700 families returning to Sudan may
be exaggerated. UNHCR and non-governmental organization
officials told P/E officer that these families allegedly
received money from an unknown source to cross over the
border in late December. We have not received any credible
new reports of large numbers of refugees moving back into
Sudan. Refugees at Am Nabak refused to be moved to a
permanent camp because they fear that if moved, they might be
taken back to Sudan. Their fears are the likely result of
attempts by some leaders, such as Hassan Birgo, to persuade
refugees to go along with the plan.



6. (C) Chadian officials are split over the idea. President
Deby has told us that the refugees cannot remain in Chad
forever, but he has never raised the idea of creating
safehaven zones inside the border with Sudan. The Chadian
Government clearly wants a solution to Darfur which would
enable the refugees to go back to Sudan. Chadian Government
officials are vocal about the pressures the refugees are
placing on the scarce land and water resources. However,
they also acknowledge privately that many local Chadians are
benefiting from services in the camps that are not available

outside. Key Chadian officials, such as the Chairman of the
Joint Commission Gen. Mahamat Ali and Special Advisor to the
President Ahmat Allam-mi do not think current conditions on
the ground would allow a return. However, it is generally
understood here that the Minister of Public Security
Abderahman and the head of the National Security Agency
Chaibo remain the NRMD's key backers within the Chadian
government and may still be supporting this idea.



7. (C) Comment: Since the idea of safehavens emerged in
December 2004, embassy officers have raised and discouraged
the issue with various government officials and parties to
the conflict. None of our interlocutors believe that the
implementation of a safehaven plan is imminent. We wonder,
however, if some of the rumors are the result of circular
reporting. We will continue to follow the issue and report
as needed.



8. (U) Khartoum and Tripoli Minimize Considered.
WALL


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