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Cablegate: Sudan - Unhcr Funding Situation and Plans for Darfur

VZCZCXRO6460
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1602/01 2840712
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 110712Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8820
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001602

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - UNHCR FUNDING SITUATION AND PLANS FOR DARFUR
EXPANSION

REFS: A) KHARTOUM 0897 B) KHARTOUM 0767

KHARTOUM 00001602 001.2 OF 002


-------
Summary
-------

1. On October 2, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees' (UNHCR) Deputy Representative for Sudan Craig Sanders
briefed international donors, including USAID, on UNHCR's funding
situation for the remainder of 2007. In addition, UNHCR discussed
progress in expanding Darfur operations and the cluster system as it
applies -- or in this case does not apply -- to Sudan. UNHCR
continues to pursue an agreement with the Government of National
Unity's (GNU) Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) to expand operations
into North and South Darfur states. Since early 2007, USAID and
other donors have pressed UNHCR to assume responsibility for
internally displaced person (IDP) camp coordination and protection
sectors throughout Darfur. UNHCR reiterated its commitment to
expanding operations from West Darfur to North and South Darfur and
reported that despite some progress on the issue, Sudanese
government obstructionism still prevails. End Summary.

---------------------------------------------
UNHCR Sudan Programs Facing Funding Shortfall
---------------------------------------------

2. Recently, UNHCR issued two press releases, one on Darfur and one
on Southern Sudan, stating that UNHCR is facing a critical funding
shortfall for its programs in Sudan. The UNHCR representative noted
that while there is a real funding shortfall for the Sudan program,
the press releases are also intended to alert donors and the
international community to the situation in hopes of raising the
needed funds. The representative mentioned that programs are not
being cut at the moment, but emphasized that further funding is
required to meet stated objectives.

3. According to budget tables presented to the donors, UNHCR's
Darfur programs have received USD 13 million out of a USD 19.7
million requested program budget for 2007. UNHCR's Southern Sudan
operations have received only USD 45 million out of a USD 56 million
requested budget. The UNHCR representative confirmed that the
figures presented did not include recent USAID funding for FY 2007,
which totals USD 2 million to support protection programs for IDPs
in Darfur and the establishment and staffing up of UNHCR offices in
North and South Darfur. Other pledged donor commitments, which
would reduce the overall funding shortfall for Darfur, were also not
reflected in the tables.

4. The UNHCR representative noted that the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) is also facing funding shortfalls
for its returns programs. In FY 2007, USAID provided USD 2 million
to support IOM's activities in Darfur and USD 4.5 million for IOM's
activities in Khartoum and Southern Sudan. UNHCR and IOM plan to
convene a donor meeting under the auspices of the UN Mission in
Sudan's Return Reintegration and Recovery Section (UNMIS RRR) to
discuss funding issues for the returns programs. At this meeting,
the two agencies plan to present donors with a prioritization of
urgent needs.

------------------
Impact on Programs
------------------

5. UNHCR was very clear that it is not pulling out of Darfur or
closing programs. However, the Darfur and Southern Sudan programs
are supplementary budgets, meaning that programs are implemented
only after UNHCR receives the funds.

6. When asked how the funding shortfall would impact programs, the
UNHCR representative stated that it would look at implementation
rates of partners to cut costs, have staff depart post early and
leave posts unfilled to reduce costs, and tighten administrative
budgets. If the funding is not secured in the next few months,
UNHCR will have to begin "putting the brakes" on programs.

-------------------------------------------
No Progress in Expanding Presence in Darfur
-------------------------------------------

7. The UNHCR representative reported that the HAC continues to

KHARTOUM 00001602 002.2 OF 002


block plans to expand operations from West Darfur to North and South
Darfur. Despite repeated meetings with HAC, UNHCR reported no
success in negotiating a memorandum of understanding to operate in
the two states. (Note: UNHCR currently has an agreement to operate
in only West Darfur. End Note.) In the meetings, HAC repeatedly
criticized UNHCR's lack of assistance to alleged returns in Darfur.
(Comment: The HAC claims that as many as 80 villages have received
recent returns, but IOM and other agencies have conducted missions
to verify these claims in several locations and found no returnees.
To date, only three areas in South Darfur have been deemed as
legitimate returns areas by IOM. End Comment.) UNHCR continues to
meet with HAC to gain agreement on the expansion.

8. In the absence of UNHCR, non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) are struggling to coordinate Darfur's IDP camps. This
exposes NGO's and OCHA to constant harassment and obstructionism
from Sudanese government authorities who view camp coordination as
inherently a government function. UNHCR's current situation with
the government is ambiguous, but it is moving ahead with expansion
plans in Darfur even without explicit government approval. The
Sudanese government has stated that they are waiting to assess
UNHCR's program in West Darfur before giving the green light for
UNHCR to operate in North and South Darfur. Despite numerous
attempts and requests on the part of UNHCR for the government to
meet with and assess UNHCR's program in West Darfur, the government
has yet to assess the program.

9. UNHCR also reported that the newly arrived Deputy Special
Representative to the UN Secretary General Ameerah Haq is very
engaged on the issue of UNHCR expansion and may pursue a UNHCR
request to demarche GNU officials on UNHCR's behalf. Haq will
likely present the issue as part of a UN reorganization linked to
the deployment of UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). An argument
will be made that with protection and camp management falling
outside of the UNAMID mandate, UNHCR will need to become operational
in all three states. Sanders described negotiations with the HAC as
a "grueling process." The UNHCR representative noted that OCHA and
other UN agencies are fully supportive of UNHCR assuming these
responsibilities.

---------------------
Managing Expectations
---------------------

10. UNHCR conveyed to the donors a need to manage expectations
around UNHCR's expanding presence in Darfur. While UNHCR is
confident that it can make marked improvements in the protection and
camp management sectors, the representative noted that it will be
arriving on the scene under extremely difficult circumstances and
expects Sudanese government obstructionism to continue. These
difficult circumstances will hinder UNHCR's ability to become fully
operational immediately.

11. UNHCR reported that in anticipation of obtaining GNU agreement
to operate in North and South Darfur, it has redeployed two
experienced Darfur staff to assist with camp coordination in 2008.
UNHCR is preparing to assume these new responsibilities, but most of
the work is internal at this point, including completing all the
bureaucratic procedures to open offices, hire staff, and secure
appropriate funding.

POWERS

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