wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07NAIROBI1035 2007-03-05 13:48:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Nairobi
Cable title:  

SOMALIA DART SITUATION REPORT 18 - UPDATE ON

Tags:   EAID PHUM PREL PREF SO 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO5453
RR RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #1035/01 0641348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051348Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7962
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0121
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001035 

SIPDIS

AIDAC

USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, WGARVELINK, LROGERS
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, GGOTTLIEB, AFERRARA, ACONVERY,
KCHANNELL
DCHA/FFP FOR WHAMMINK, JDWORKEN
AFR/AFR/EA FOR JBORNS
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/F AND PRM
STATE/AF/E FOR NGARY
STATE/F FOR ASISSON
STATE/PRM FOR AWENDT, MMCKELVEY
NSC FOR TSHORTLEY
USUN FOR AMAHONEY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL PREF SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA DART SITUATION REPORT 18 - UPDATE ON
KENYA-SOMALIA BORDER CLOSURE

REF: NAIROBI 00380

NAIROBI 00001035 001.2 OF 003


SUMMARY



1. With diplomatic support from the US Ambassador, and
persistence from the humanitarian community, the flow
of assistance from Kenya to Somalia has improved.
However, unpredictable security regulations at El Wak
and Mandera continue to delay the movement of
humanitarian staff and the transport of relief supplies
to southern Somalia. Government of Kenya (GOK)
officials in Nairobi are reportedly communicating
different policies from authorities at the border,
leaving humanitarian staff to coordinate between
various levels of the GOK, while trying to identify
acceptable procedures for the transit of personnel and
relief commodities across the border. The border still
remains closed to Somali asylum-seekers, but the Office
of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and
the GOK Ministry of Foreign Affairs have opened a
direct line of communication on this issue. End
summary.

BACKGROUND



2. Since the January 3 closure of the Kenya-Somalia
border by the GOK to humanitarian cargo entering
Somalia, and Somali asylum seekers seeking entry to
Kenya (REFTEL), movement of humanitarian staff and
cargo has been restricted and caused delays in some
relief programs in Somalia. Recently, permission to
cross the border has been granted by the GOK on an ad
hoc basis to some UN agencies and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), although delays are still
reported and access can be unpredictable. This cable
reviews the situation at the El Wak, Mandera, and Liboi
crossing points and discusses engagement by the
humanitarian community to address the border issue.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS



3. Overall, access at El Wak has improved in recent
weeks with successive food aid convoys able to reach
communities in Gedo Region. However, the lack of a
customs officer there leads to inconsistent application
of border regulations indicating that recent
improvement is not a guarantee for continued access.
The situation at Mandera is erratic, with UN agencies
receiving one-off permission the week of February 18
while NGOs continue to wait and negotiate for access.



4. In a positive development, the UN World Food
Program (WFP) reported that the GOK Ministry of Foreign
Affairs contacted the WFP logistics cluster
representative on February 23 and requested to be
updated on any ongoing problems related to crossing the
border. The humanitarian community in Nairobi is
thankful for the Ambassador's efforts and believes that
his initiatives have contributed to the good progress
that has been made.

EL WAK



5. WFP, a major USG food aid partner in Somalia,
reported that 40 trucks recently distributing food aid
in Gedo Region, Somalia, successfully re-entered Kenya
at El Wak border station for reloading in late
February. On March 1, a WFP convoy of 27 trucks

NAIROBI 00001035 002.2 OF 003


carrying 791 metric tons (MT) of food aid bound for
Gedo Region crossed into Somalia from El Wak without
incident.



6. Following on WFP's increased access at El Wak, the
NGO CARE, another significant USG food aid partner, has
requested and received concurrence from GOK authorities
to move humanitarian cargo across the border over the
following week. As of March 2, CARE planned to attempt
to cross the border at El Wak within days.

MANDERA



7. On February 18, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF)
received permission for seven trucks carrying a total
of 100 MT of emergency relief supplies to enter Somalia
at Mandera, and crossed soon thereafter.



8. CARE is working with local GOK officials in Mandera
to clarify the border regulations. After receiving a
letter from the GOK Office of the President granting
permission for humanitarian cargo to cross into Somalia
on February 20, and confirming receipt and validity of
the letter with the Mandera District Commissioner, CARE
was denied permission to cross by local border
officials.



9. CARE met with local officials in Mandera on
February 27 to clarify the policies and procedures for
transporting food aid into Somalia. According to WFP,
local authorities did not indicate any objections in
principle to the border crossing for humanitarian
cargo, however additional discussions were required to
determine modalities for the upcoming CARE convoy.
Since the meeting, CARE Somali staff has received
permission to enter Kenya for cargo handling training,
and as of March 2 CARE was hoping to move food aid
across the border within days. As of March 1, CARE
warehouses at Mandera remain at capacity, with more
than 4,300 MT of food aid waiting for transit into
Somalia.

LIBOI



10. UNHCR Acting Representative Eddie Gedalof reports
that humanitarian assistance is "flowing smoothly" at
the Liboi border crossing. This good news is tempered
by the fact that Liboi receives relatively little
humanitarian aid traffic. Liboi is the main crossing
point for Somali asylum seekers, and still remains
closed to those seeking to enter Kenya. At the
Ambassador's urging, UNHCR and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs have opened a line of communication on the
asylum seeker issue. Offers by the USG and UNHCR to
support a border screening regime are "being taken up
at higher levels" within the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs.

HIJACKING RAISES CONCERNS



11. The hijacking of a WFP-contracted food transport
ship off the coast of Puntland in northern Somalia on
February 25 has raised concern among the humanitarian
community. Although piracy has occurred off the
Somalia coast, this is the first such incident in nine
months. Given the recent difficulty and delays
involved in transporting humanitarian cargo over land
across the Kenya-Somalia border, sea transport,

NAIROBI 00001035 003.2 OF 003


particularly for food aid, is critical to ensuring
timely and adequate humanitarian relief for the
approximately 590,000 Somalis dependent on it.



12. WFP says that Puntland officials are working to
free the hijacked ship, and there have been no requests
for diplomatic engagement to date.

CONCLUSION



13. With diplomatic support from the US Ambassador and
persistence from the humanitarian community, the border
situation is improving. The relief community has made
clear its appreciation for the Mission's efforts in
this regard. Mission is following the border situation
closely and will continue to engage with the GOK to
ensure implementation of an appropriate border
screening regime that fulfills both security and
humanitarian needs.

RANNEBERGER