Cablegate: Iraq: Un Launches 2008 Humanitarian Appeal

DE RUEHGB #0481/01 0510502
R 200502Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: On 12 February, the United Nations
(UN) launched a humanitarian
appeal for Iraq in Baghdad and requested
$265 million for humanitarian activities for
vulnerable Iraqis. The UN faces challenges related to
its security stance to increasing its presence in
Iraq, but may modify them soon. The Government of
Iraq (GOI) has create a new committee under the Prime
Minister to facilitate humanitarian activities and
pledged an additional $40 million to the effort. The
launch reflects an effort by the UN to raise the
profile of the humanitarian situation and demonstrate
its will to work with the GoI. Whether it will
succeed depends on its ability to transfer operations
from Jordan and raise the necessary funds. END

Appeal Launched in Baghdad

2. (U) On 12 February, OFDA Rep attended the Baghdad
launch of the UN Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP)
document for Iraq. The CAP was launched by the
Special Representative of the UN Secretary General
(SRSG) Steffan De Mistura, Humanitarian Coordinator
David Shearer, Minister of Displacement and Migrants
(MODM) Dr. Ali Sultan and Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh from the
Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). Also at the
thinly attended event were western diplomats,
government officials, journalists and UN staff.

3. (U) The CAP requests $265 million for 65
individual projects to be implemented by 10 Non-
Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and 14 UN agencies
in nine sectoral areas (food, housing/shelter, health
and nutrition, protection/human rights/rule of law,
water and sanitation, unspecified, education,
coordination and agriculture/food security). These
projects will be on behalf of about 2.2 million
internally displaced people (IDPs) nationwide, and be
implemented within 12 months.

4. (U) The Appeal document provides a snapshot of
humanitarian conditions in Iraq, and lays out a
strategy for the humanitarian community to address the
most urgent needs. The four strategic priorities are
to: 1) relieve immediate suffering by ensuring access
to essential services; 2) provide protection to
vulnerable civilians against human rights violations;
3) improved capacity, coverage and coordination of
humanitarian activities; and 4) strengthen linkage
between immediate action and sustainable recovery.

5. (U) Mr. Shearer said in his remarks that the CAP
represents the operationalizing of UN SC Resolution
1770, which calls for an increased UN response in
Iraq. He explained that the UN will rely on NGOs to
implement since they are able to operate effectively
in spite of continuing difficulty moving around due to
security threats. He emphasized that the Appeal is
meant to fill humanitarian gaps and provide for rapid action,
not achieve a comprehensive solution, which will
require GoI action.

6. (U) Participants at the launch stressed the
importance of working with and under the leadership of
the GoI. Several noted that given the scale of the
problem and the resources potentially available to it,
as well as the history of state provision of services
in Iraq, it is only logical that the GoI take a strong

Money-back Guarantee

7. (U) An unusual promise was made by SRSG De Mistura
to the GoI at the meeting: if the UN received funds
and had not disbursed them within 20 months, the UN
would either return the funds to the donors or provide
them to the GoI for disbursal. (Whether individual UN
agencies will accept this conditionality remains to be
seen, but the promise was well-received by the GoI and
donor representatives present).

Minister of Migration

8. (U) MODM Minister Sultan said that Iraq continues
to suffer from the economic misdeeds of past regimes
and current siege by terrorists. Iraq is now a donor,
not just a recipient, having provided $100 million to

BAGHDAD 00000481 002 OF 003

deal with internal displacement, therefore what Iraq
needs is help with mechanisms, not just resources.
The minister called on donors to help to ensure GoI
efforts are robust and implemented under a well
understood, unified UN/MODM strategic framework.

9. (U) The Minister also took the occasion to
announce the creation of a new council of ministers
committee on humanitarian activities under the
chairmanship of Dr. Al-Dabbagh, whose role would be to
facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations in
Iraq and ensure government unity and support for those
efforts, led by the MODM. This committee would also
determine how to allocate funds to help the IDPs.

Government of Iraq Pledges $40 million for IDPs
--------------------------------------------- --

10. (U) Dr. Al-Dabbagh announced that the GoI would
release $40 million in funds left over from a pre-war
UN World Food Program fund to "the humanitarian
effort" (without specifying if the funds would go to
the CAP, although the SRSG gave the impression to the
audience that it would). He said this amount was in
addition to the $25 million already provided by the
GoI and that it represented a "preliminary sum". He
also told the group that the Jordanian Government had
dropped plans to charge fees to Iraqis who have
overstayed their visas in Jordan. Finally, he
declared 2008 the year of "provision of services and
infrastructure" to affected Iraqis.

11. (U) SRSG De Mistura said the GoI contribution
would support the humanitarian effort in four key
ways: 1) it would be a sign of the GoI's intent to
participate in the material side of the response; 2)
it would send a signal to Iraqis that the GoI is
serious about this problem; 3) it would put into use
humanitarian funds long frozen; and 4) it will
increase national pride through Iraq being a donor and
not simply a recipient.

UN Staff Limits

12. (U) If the UN is going to achieve the goals of
the CAP, it will need to increase the number of
civilian professional staff based in Iraq and relax
security restrictions where feasible to allow them to
work. Currently UN staff members are prevented from
leaving their bases in Baghdad's International Zone or
Erbil except under strict escort conditions, and are
unable to plan and implement projects based on first-
hand field assessments.

13. (U) A senior UN official told OFDA rep that the
chief of UN's Department of Security (who was recently
in Iraq) will probably recommend an increase in the
number of UN staffers allowed in Baghdad from 85 to
140, in Erbil from 36 to 50 and a ceiling in Basra of
seven. He also said the chief would be looking at
ways to improve UN "mobility" in Iraq, but not yet
review the UN's security phase, which remains at phase
four (emergency operations only) nationwide. (A
lowering of the phase would facilitate staff travel
outside guarded bases. A nuanced approach has been
called for given the variety of security conditions in


14. (U) The Iraq CAP was an afterthought (UN annual
appeals are usually launched in December) and reflects
the new humanitarian leadership being provided in Iraq
by HC Shearer. The decision to make a humanitarian
appeal was made in part to raise funds, but also to
raise awareness of the humanitarian issues in Iraq,
assert UN leadership in addressing them, bring the GoI
into the process more formally and show donors that
the UN is serious about re-engaging with Iraq from
inside Iraq.

15. (U) The launch takes place in a context of
cautious optimism that the displacement phenomenon may
well have peaked and cautious returns begun. Speakers
stressed, however, that there is a long way to go in
terms of addressing the underlying causes of
displacement (insecurity, sectarian tension) and
durable solutions (reconciliation, economic

BAGHDAD 00000481 003 OF 003

16. (U) It is not clear what is going to happen with
the $40 million pledged by the GoI towards
humanitarian activities. Some concern was privately
expressed by UN officials present that the money,
outside the national budget could easily disappear.

17. (U) To achieve the goals of the CAP, given the
multiplicity of actors and interests, complexity of
the situation and large scale of the problem,
effective coordination will be required. One of the
pre-requisites for this will be to end the bi-polar
system in use between Baghdad and Amman, preferably by
favoring Iraq-based coordination. Another will be the
establishing of a robust presence of the UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq.


18. (U) While the production and release of this
appeal in Baghdad is a hopeful sign that the UN will
be increasing its engagement with Iraq, security
concerns and the UN's continued reticence to take a
nuanced view of them will continue to make
humanitarian work in the country very difficult for UN
implementing agencies. Whether the UN will be able to
become a player will depend on its ability to overcome
both the security issues and the comfort of its staff
in Jordan, and to get a decent response from donors
for the humanitarian Appeal.


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