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Cablegate: Darfur - Unhcr Needs to Fulfill Idp Cluster Obligation

VZCZCXRO5861
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0767/01 1351554
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151554Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7218
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000767

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND TSHORTLEY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - UNHCR NEEDS TO FULFILL IDP CLUSTER OBLIGATION

KHARTOUM 00000767 001.2 OF 002


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

(U) Three years into the humanitarian response in Darfur, the Office
of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) needs to fulfill
its internally displaced person (IDP) cluster obligation. UNHCR's
presence in the protection, camp coordination, and emergency shelter
sectors is necessary to improve critical services for the more than
2 million IDPs and 1.8 million conflict-affected people. From April
19 to April 26, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
(USAID/OFDA) Director met UNHCR and the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Khartoum and all
three Darfur state capitals to discuss ways to improve care and
maintenance for IDPs in Darfur. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
UNHCR: CAMP COORDINATION, PROTECTION, AND SHELTER
--------------------------------------------- ----

1. (U) In an April 21 meeting in Khartoum, the Deputy Special
Representative of the UN Secretary General and Humanitarian/Resident
Coordinator (HC/RC) Manuel Aranda da Silva informed the USAID/OFDA
Director Ky Luu that he had urged UNHCR starting in 2004 to increase
engagement in the care and protection of IDPs in Darfur. The HC/RC
described camp coordination as an activity that exposes
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to harassment and should be
transferred to UNHCR. At that time, donors were not supportive of
the idea. Without UNHCR, OCHA has assisted in camp coordination but
does not have the staff or the mandate to serve in this function for
the long term. Overall in Sudan, the HC/RC reported significant
improvement in the performance of UNHCR due to changes in the
office's management but notes that the program in Southern Sudan
lags behind.

2. (U) OCHA representatives in Darfur concur that a UNHCR presence
in these sectors is needed. NGOs that the USAID/OFDA Director met
with also stressed the need for the UN to quickly make a policy
determination on which UN agency would assume the lead for camp
coordination and implement a coordinated, strategic plan in these
sectors. Darfur's largest and most volatile IDP camps, including
Gereida, Kalma, Otash, and Al Salam, are currently uncoordinated by
humanitarian agencies. USAID/OFDA field staff have observed that
the lack of coordination is leading to gaps in provision of relief
services.

3. (U) In contrast to protection and camp coordination, the combined
emergency shelter and non-food items (NFIs) sector does not create
conflict with the Sudanese government. In keeping with the UN
reform, the HC/RC plans to request that UNHCR assume responsibility
for this sector. Taking the lead in emergency shelter and NFIs will
balance activities in the camp coordination and protection sectors,
which are likely to create tension and conflict with the Sudanese
government. While the current NFI system with the UN Children's
Fund (UNICEF) procuring the items, CARE providing logistics, and the
UN Joint Logistics Center (UNJLC) coordinating and documenting the
effort works, the HC/RC would like to see UNHCR assume
responsibility from UNICEF and UNJLC to reduce the number of
organizations involved with NFI distribution to only two, UNHCR and
CARE. USAID/OFDA understands that taking the lead in protection and
camp coordination is a politically sensitive move, but a credible UN
presence is preferred to an ad hoc OCHA and NGO presence in these
sectors.

4. (U) On April 22, the USAID/OFDA Director met with UNHCR in
Khartoum. The UNHCR representatives noted some concerns that
negotiating an expanded UNHCR role in Darfur with the Sudanese
government will be difficult and could potentially take more than
six months. However, UNHCR stated that they were already scaling-up
operations and increasing staff in North and South Darfur in order
to lay the foundation for assuming a new role in the IDP response.
UNHCR emphasized the need to closely coordinate with NGOs and other
UN agencies involved in camp coordination and protection because the
Sudanese government may attempt to push out other organizations once
UNHCR has the responsibility for camp coordination, protection,
emergency shelter, and NFIs. USAID/OFDA believes the plan outlined
by UNHCR in Khartoum is sufficient, realistic, and achievable.
According to discussions held with the USAID/OFDA Director in West
Darfur, UNHCR is already collaborating effectively with NGOs, OCHA,
and other organizations in these sectors.

--------------------------------------------- -
GNU NOT YET ON BOARD WITH THE PROPOSED CHANGES

KHARTOUM 00000767 002.2 OF 002


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

5. (U) The Government of National Unity (GNU) is not yet on board
with the proposed UNHCR expansion of services. The HC/RC noted four
reasons for the GNU's resistance:

--Both the GNU Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and the Humanitarian
Aid Commissioner do not believe UNHCR should be involved with
providing assistance to IDPs since UNHCR's mandate centers on
refugees. Additionally, the GNU realizes that working with UNHCR
will be more formal and will provide less opportunity to control
processes than the current structure with NGOs.

--UNHCR/Chad reportedly has a strong anti-Sudanese sentiment that
affects UNHCR operations in Sudan.

--NGOs are the responsibility of the Humanitarian Aid Commission
(HAC), while UNHCR is the responsibility of the GNU Ministry of the
Interior, specifically the GNU Commission for Refugees (COR). This
relationship has a 20-year history and a strong lobby in the GNU.
The HC/RC expects COR to reject UNHCR expansion into IDP care
because that is the purview of HAC, which is under the Ministry of
Humanitarian Affairs and not the Ministry of the Interior. COR
fears its monopoly on dealing with UNHCR might be diminished.

--Within UNHCR, many staff do not support the proposed expansion of
services and have strong sentiments against this process.

--------------------
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
--------------------

6. (U) In South Darfur, OCHA observed that perhaps the local
authorities, including HAC, would prefer to have a single point of
contact for camp coordination and protection under UNHCR's
leadership. However, the success of a UNHCR deployment would depend
on the approach and staff recruited to the leadership positions.


7. (U) The HC/RC noted that UNHCR does not have the required
staffing and that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) also does not have
staff available for an expanded presence. Reportedly, many of the
staff at UNMIS had come from UNHCR and have no intention to return.
The HC/RC is working to generate interest in protection positions in
Sudan and ensure that UNHCR has priority for newly recruited staff
over UNMIS.

8. (U) In meetings with NGOs and UN agencies in Darfur's three state
capitals, the USAID/OFDA Director noted significant confusion on
what role UNHCR would play in the future and how long it would take
UNHCR to assume these new functions. Aid agencies in West Darfur
told the USAID/OFDA Director that the UN should not try to fix
something that is not broken. It is apparent that in West Darfur,
the UN and NGOs have a close working relationship and camp
coordination has not been as large of an issue in comparison with
the other two states. The OCHA, UNHCR, and NGO coordination in West
Darfur can serve as a model for expanding UNHCR's presence in the
other two states.

----------------------------
COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
----------------------------

9. (U) With his scheduled departure in June, da Silva noted that his
deputy for the north was well qualified to move forward on
implementing UNHCR's expanded role in the IDP response as he has
previously worked for UNHCR. Many believe da Silva's successor will
be his deputy in the south, David Grassly, who is widely regarded as
extremely competent and effective.

10. (U) USAID/OFDA encourages UNHCR to continue to negotiate with
the GNU on assuming responsibility for camp coordination,
protection, emergency shelter, and NFIs for IDPs in Darfur.
USAID/OFDA sees this as a necessary step in establishing a more
cohesive and coordinated humanitarian response in Darfur. UNHCR's
engagement would also serve as a much needed buffer between NGOs and
other implementing agencies and the Sudanese government. A buffer
role is increasingly important as NGOs have been violently targeted,
attacked, and harassed, as well as burdened with ceaseless
bureaucratic obstacles that hinder the delivery of life-saving
services.

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