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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09KHARTOUM311
2009-03-07 11:43:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Khartoum
Cable title:  

ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF THE NGO EXPULSION AMIDST CONTINUED

Tags:   EAID  ASEC  PGOV  PREL  KPKO  SOCI  AU  UNSC  SU 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3213
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0311/01 0661143
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071143Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3174
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KHARTOUM 000311 

AIDAC

DEPT FOR AF A A/S CARTER, AF/SPG, AF/C
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, PRM, AF
NSC FOR MGAVIN AND CHUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SP, USAID/W DCHA SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF THE NGO EXPULSION AMIDST CONTINUED
DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS TO REVERSE THEM

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 299
(B) KHARTOUM 306

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The impact of the expulsion of more than 13 NGOs
from Sudan(ten international expelled and three domestic NGOs
dissolved) is only beginning to be felt, and the NGO staff report
considerable harassment from the GOS Humanitarian Affairs Commision
(HAC) as they attempt to organize themselves for departure. This
cable provides a preliminary overview of the impact that the
departure of these NGOs will have on USG programs in Sudan, as well
as some proposals on mitigating the effect of the departures, if the
expulsions orders cannot be reversed. Post continues to press GNU
officials and coordinate with implementing partners to determine the
extent of the program impact of the expulsions as well as
supplementary measures to ameliorate the increasingly dire
situation. Embassy raised it with NISS officials on March 6 and CDA
Fernandez is meeting with additional senior regime and NCP party
officials March 7 to continue efforts to reverse or delay the
expulsions. UN SRSG Qazi is making similar efforts, and we are
coordinating our message closely with the UN and with other donors
on a daily basis. END SUMMARY.



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


WHERE WILL IT END?


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





2. (SBU) It is possible that we have not seen the last of the
expulsions of NGOs, though there have been no additional
announcements since March 5. On March 5, UN-OCHA staff inquired
whether the GNU HAC planned to issue additional expulsions or
notices to other parties. According to the GNU HAC Commissioner,
"It is very likely. We are under a very unusual circumstance which
calls for unusual measures." (NOTE: HAC has justified the
expulsions by arguing that the 2006 Humanitarian Law designed to
protect against dramatic program interruptions and other significant
problems is currently inapplicable because the current situation is
an "emergency situation that requires emergency decisions." This is
how the GNU has justified allowing the NGOs only five days to
organize their affairs and depart Sudan, rather than the thirty days
that should be allowed based on their agreements with the
government. END NOTE).



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


HARASSMENT OF NGO STAFF, SEIZURE OF PROPERTY


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





3. (SBU) There have been several incidents of harassment of NGO
staff while the HAC has been in the process of seizing their
property. On March 5, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) reported that
expatriate staff had departed Kass internally displaced person (IDP)
camp in Nyala, South Darfur, and were en-route to Nyala Airport for
the joint African Union-UN Hybrid Operations in Darfur flight to

Khartoum. According to ACF, officials from the GNU HAC in Nyala
arrived at the organization's offices earlier in the day and
demanded that ACF staff leave the facility immediately and not
return. Under duress, ACF staff surrendered all project and office
equipment at the location.



4. (SBU) Also on March 5, USAID/OFDA implementing partner CHF
International reported that GNU HAC authorities continued to
unobtrusively observe CHF operations in Khartoum. While CHF noted
that GNU authorities have not yet seized CHF funds, the
organization's bank accounts remain frozen, disrupting plans to pay
local staff salaries before the expatriate staff depart on March 6
and 8. CHF did note that they were having no problems getting exit
visas, which are being immediately processed by the GNU HAC. Other
expelled organizations note that the GNU HAC has sent teams of
between four and eight individuals to the organizations' offices to
oversee close-out activities. (NOTE: NGO staff commented that some
of the GNU HAC staff at NGO offices appear pleasant and almost
apologetic for the disturbance, perhaps yet another indication of
how the expulsion notices are coming from very high up in the
Sudanese government, rather than from within the GNU HAC itself.
END NOTE)



5. (SBU) To date, the GNU HAC has seized assets from several

KHARTOUM 00000311 002 OF 004


partners including ACF, CHF, IRC, Save the Children/US, Solidarites,
Mercy Corps and CARE. In addition to itemizing and confiscating
project assets including vehicles, computers, and communications
equipment, the Sudanese government has also confiscated personal
assets from program staff, including passports. On the evening of
March 5, GNU National Security (NS) staff ransacked personal luggage
and confiscated personal effects of 91 NGO staff evacuating from
Nyala, including laptops, cell phones, i-pods, and cameras. DSRSG
Ameerah Haqq told CDA Fernandez on March 6 that she had spent that
morning calming and commiserating with the humanitarian workers in
Khartoum (Embassy will be meeting with the same people on March 8).




6. (SBU) While working to ensure the safety of expatriate staff
and project assets, we remain concerned about the safety of NGO
local staff and their families, particularly due to the Sudanese
government's seizure of NGO computers that contain sensitive and
extensive personnel files and program information. NGOs recently
evacuated from Darfur report some local staff being detained by
National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and questioned
extensively, leaving many local staff members distraught and shaken.
Although expatriate staff will depart Sudan by early next week, the
local staff are unable to leave the country and may continue to be
subjected to government harassment long after their expatriate
colleagues have safely departed.



7. (SBU) In addition to local staff of international organizations,
Sudanese staff of domestic civil society and community-based
organizations are at risk. The GNU has dissolved three prominent
domestic organizations - SUDO, Khartoum Center for Human Rights, and
Amel Center - all of which work on human rights issues in Darfur and
Khartoum. SUDO is the sole provider of emergency health care in
overcrowded Zam Zam camp in North Darfur, which has recently been
absorbing thousands of IDPs fleeing the JEM-SAF fighting in
Muhajeria, as well as other humanitarian assistance in other parts
of Darfur. Amel Center has worked tirelessly since the Darfur
crisis began to provide legal services to IDPs, particularly women
victims of violence. Local sources report that a number of civil
society and human rights activists in Khartoum left the city with
their families in advance of the March 4 announcement. The closure
of these organizations, among the most effective in Sudan, will have
a silencing effect on domestic voices advocating justice and
protection for the most vulnerable. Suspicious NCP officials
justified the closures by claiming that "Sudan is now at war" and
these organizations could be used as fifth columnists as we done by
the West in Yugoslavia and Georgia.



8. (SBU) USAID staff note security concerns for NGO expat staff and
ongoing bureaucratic impediments. During the morning of March 5,
GNU authorities prohibited NGO staff from departing Nyala, South
Darfur, for Khartoum. Reasons behind the decision remain unknown.
On the same day, staff members from Solidarites reported a hostile
altercation between UNAMID and NISS during the evacuation of
Solidarites offices in Nyala. The altercation reportedly resulted
in NISS shoving a staff member of Solidarites face-down into the
ground with a gun pointed to his head. (NOTE: Normal evacuation
procedures in Darfur involve an armed UNAMID convoy that escorts the
evacuees from point A to point B. It is unclear as to why NISS was
present at the Solidarites offices. END NOTE.) Several NGOs have
reported being met at the Khartoum airport by GNU HAC staff and
followed to their offices and guesthouses with GNU HAC staff
remaining outside overnight. NGOs are currently unable to move
around town without someone from the GNU HAC accompanying them.



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


MEASURING THE EXPULSION'S IMPACT


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





9. (SBU) According to the UN, the loss of the NGOs means that in
Darfur, 1.1 million individuals will not receive food aid, 1.5
million will not have health care, and more than 1 million will not
have access to safe and clean drinking water. Critical activities
supporting CPA implementation in the volatile Three Areas, including
local government integration and conflict resolution between heavily
armed, rival tribes, will also cease if the implementing NGOs depart
Sudan. The extent to which these expulsions have eroded operational
capacity in Darfur and the Three Areas is so great that it is
difficult to see how the immense assistance gap being created by
these NGO departures can ever be fully covered even if basic needs
can somehow be satisfied. USAID and the UN agree that the immediate

KHARTOUM 00000311 003 OF 004


humanitarian operational capacity in Darfur has been reduced by at
least 60 percent, including health, nutrition, and livelihoods and
provision of non-food commodities. Approximately 40 percent of
WFP's monthly general food distribution caseload and approximately
half of WFP's supplementary feeding programs in Darfur were
implemented by the expelled NGOs. Although several relief
organizations and the UN have appealed to the GNU to reverse or
delay the decision to expel NGOs, to date, the GNU has been
unyielding, and has stated that the decision will not be reversed.
Haqq told CDA that even some lower level regime institutions, such
as state and local health ministries, have complained of their
inability to fill the gap. Even if the decision is reversed, the
ability of the humanitarian community to fully reinstate programs at
this point will be difficult. We caution that scaling up existing
NGO programs or initiating new partner programs will be an extremely
complicated and difficult process given the hostile environment
created by the regime. We are currently considering several options
for the continuity of programs in Darfur and the Three Areas
including, but not limited to: expanding UN and remaining NGO
humanitarian operations; reprioritizing remaining NGO assets and new
funding to critical life-saving operations, such as therapeutic and
supplemental feeding, and emergency health care; reprogramming
unspent funding from expelled NGOs to remaining humanitarian
agencies to expand programs and; preparing for new humanitarian
needs and the possibility of new displacements. Ashraf Qazi told CDA
on March 7 that the UN is exploring similar "alternate modalities"
to present to the regime later on March 7 to avert wholesale
implosion.



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


IDP CAMPS STILL QUIET, FOR NOW


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





10. (SBU) On March 5, local sources in Darfur reported calm
security conditions in area IDP camps and a lack of understanding
among the IDPs regarding the permanent nature of the NGO expulsions.
There are concerns that the IDP camps may experience increased
levels of violence once IDPs learn of the immediate, permanent
service cancellation. On March 5, international news media reported
discontent and concern among some IDPs when aid staff were absent
from IDP camps and the magnitude of the GNU's decision began to
circulate. UNAMID will be the immediate recipients of IDP ire if the
services gap becomes permanent.



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


COMMENT


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





11. (SBU) If the GNU decision to expel the NGOs is not reversed or
modified, as time goes on the humanitarian situation will become
increasingly dire for conflict-affected populations. The immediate
lack of food-aid, water, health care, and hygiene and sanitation
services for more than 2 million people will lead to an increase in
disease and mortality, and an increase in malnutrition in the medium
term. As programs close or reduce services, IDPs are likely to move
to areas where humanitarian services remain, including urban centers
in Darfur or across the border to Chad. In its desire to retaliate
against the international community for the ICC decision, the
Sudanese government has once again used the humanitarian aid
programs and NGOs as a weapon against those governments and
international organizations they perceive to be against them.
Unfortunately the impact of the GNU's latest move will be felt most
by the millions of IDPs and vulnerable groups in Darfur and the
Three Areas. The coming weeks and months will reveal the full
impact of the government's actions, which over time will be measured
not by the number of NGOs the government successfully expels, but by
the number of Sudanese civilians who will continue to suffer and
die. Post will work with the UN and other donors to attempt to
mitigate the effect of the departures of the NGOs, perhaps by
quietly delaying them while developing options for filling what
appear now to be extremely large gaps. While the regime sees the
expulsions as a "measured response" against the ICC and its
perceived patrons in the West, it is also a power grab in Darfur
seeking to isolate IDP populations, weaken their autonomy and make
them utterly dependent on regime largesse. The regime expects that
the West will continue to foot the bill for the massive humanitarian
effort in Darfur but channel it through a malleable UN (at best) or
through the goons of HAC and NISS (at worst).



12. (SBU) CDA Fernandez is meeting with additional senior regime and

KHARTOUM 00000311 004 OF 004


NCP party officials on March 7 to continue to attempt to reverse or
delay the expulsions (septel). RAO delivered the same message to
NISS DG Salah Ghosh on March 6. He has encouraged senior SPLM
officials and Senior Assistant to the President Minnawi to send
similar messages to the NCP. UN SRSG Ashraf Qazi is also meeting
with many of the same senior regime officials on March 7 to present
figures on the disastrous impact of the departures on the UN work
program, not to mention the lives impacted in Darfur, the Three
Areas, and the East. We have been in almost hourly contact with the
UN and with donors and will continue to coordinate our efforts.

FERNANDEZ