US embassy cable - 05NDJAMENA263

RUMORS OF REFUGEES RETURNING TO SUDAN

Identifier: 05NDJAMENA263
Wikileaks: View 05NDJAMENA263 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ndjamena
Created: 2005-02-20 12:14:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM PREF KAWC CD SU Darfur Policy and Rebels Humanitarian Operations
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
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, Darfur Policy and Rebels, Humanitarian Operations 
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 
 
 
NNNN 

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