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Cablegate: Unhcr Moves to Zone Defense in Afghanistan but Donors Have

VZCZCXRO6088
OO RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0585/01 0680332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 080332Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3165
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000585

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/FO DAS CAMP, SCA/A, PRM
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PREL PHUM AF
SUBJECT: UNHCR Moves to Zone Defense in Afghanistan But Donors Have
Other Plans

KABUL 00000585 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. UNHCR is urging donors to concentrate their
refugee assistance projects in distinct geographic zones. Their
proposal would have major donors working around ongoing efforts of
the Japanese in the east, the Germans in the north, and the Italians
in the west. Major donors who are already focusing on these regions
in response to need prefer a programmatic rather than geographic
approach. Post is closely tracking donor funding and encouraging
enhanced coordination to avoid duplication or funding gaps in
program and geographic areas.

U.S. and EC Would Get The Leftovers
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) UNHCR used a January meeting to raise the idea of assigning
donors to geographic zones. Major donors (U.S., European Commission
Humanitarian Organization (ECHO) and European Commission (EC))
recognized that this would leave them responsible for the South
where security challenges are most severe and where needs are not
necessarily the greatest. We asked for further time to consider the
proposal and, in a follow-up meeting, preliminarily decided to
maintain a programmatic approach in Afghanistan rather than a
regional or geographic approach. While all donors may put
significant funds into the east, west, and north, where the majority
of refugees are likely to return, none wanted to agree to be
responsible for an area where monitoring and evaluation are
difficult, or to be discouraged from working in zones covered by
other donors.

German and Italian Funding: Limited and Not Strictly
Geographically-Focused
--------------------------------------------- --------

3. (SBU) UNHCR's geographic zone approach makes sense in that it
would, in principle, use resources from other sources to complement
existing German and Italian programs in the zones defined by their
PRTs. But German and Italian funding is sparse, and even they do
not confine their assistance to areas around their PRTs. The
Germans, who run PRTs in northern Kunduz and Badakshan provinces,
have only 2 million euros for 2008 refugee assistance, one million
of which they have already decided to use to connect a village in
western Afghanistan on the outskirts of Herat (where German
development agency GTZ built a water system last year) to Herat's
city water system. Furthermore, the Italian-run PRT in Herat does
not even currently conduct medical assistance missions in their
areas. A major increase in Italian refugee assistance funding is
unlikely.

European Community Funding: Nangarhar Is The Big Winner
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (SBU) Both ECHO and the EC focus on the eastern province of
Nangarhar. The EC will spend a total of 13.5 million euros on
refugee issues, funding UN Habitat (5 million euros) to build
shelter in the Sheik Misri Land Allocation Scheme (LAS) program near
Jalalabad. (The EC put no money into the LAS program in 2007, so
their funding may reflect growing confidence in the program's
future.) The EC will also give 6.5 million euros to UNHCR, 1.5
million euros to the Norwegian Refugee Council and 800,000 euros to
HELP, a German NGO. The EC will also fund projects in Districts 6
and 7 of Kabul City, and will add District 13 and 5 (specific
funding figures are unavailable). Embassy urged the EC
representative to stay in close touch with USAID's Office of Foreign
Disaster Assistance, which is planning a Kabul urban shelter
project.

5. (SBU) ECHO will give 7 million euros to UNHCR and 8.5 million
euros directly to NGOs for shelter and water/sanitation projects
(ECHO cannot fund schools or clinics). ECHO will focus shelter
construction in Nangarhar, Paktia, and Herat (Faryan and Shindan
districts), as well as a planned LAS site in Farah. While all
donors face shrinking budgets for Afghanistan, ECHO is plussing up
its funding, particularly for humanitarian and disaster relief
activities.

The Japanese Give Big Money Behind The Scenes
---------------------------------------------


KABUL 00000585 002.3 OF 002


6. (SBU) Japan is providing $36 million (from a one-time Japanese
Diet contribution) to UN organizations for refugee assistance in
2008. Programs will include: 1) $10 million to UNHCR to support the
repatriation cash grant, 2,000 shelters (location tbd), and
information sharing projects for Afghans considering repatriation;
2) $12 million to UN Habitat for programs in Nangarhar, Laghman, and
Kunar (all in the east) to create Community Development Councils and
fund their block grants; 3) $9 million to the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) to fund vocational training and
shelters for Afghan deportees from Iran in Herat and Faryab
provinces (in the west and northwest); and 4) $5 million to the
World Food Program (WFP) for vocational training and food-for-work
programs in Herat and Faryab.

7. (SBU) Due to security concerns, Japan funnels all funds through
the UN organizations, leaving most of the monitoring and evaluation
to them. Japan also has a Grassroots Assistance Grant Program
(GAGP) "to meet local needs promptly." GAGP funds 50-70 projects
countrywide for roughly $90,000 each. Projects focus on local
infrastructure support, not specifically refugees, and target school
construction, irrigation systems, vocational training, demining,
roads/bridges, etc. Japan also allocates less than $1 million to
Japanese NGOs for a few small projects. Due to Afghanistan's
security situation, the Japanese Embassy advises Japanese NGOs not
to work directly in-country.

USG Should Focus Assistance on Programmatic Approach, Not Geographic
Zones
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. (SBU) Post continues to press UNHCR to take a national
programmatic approach rather than be locked into a geographic,
formula-driven approach for the distribution of PRM's direct NGO
funding ($9-10 million). We are also pushing for enhanced donor
coordination to ensure that donors and dollars do not all get
channelled to certain provinces like Nangarhar to the exclusion of
others, or fund only shelter programs without the accompanying
social services. Focusing on "pull factor" projects -- schools,
clinics, livelihood development, and targeted shelter programs -- is
imperative this year as large numbers of Afghans are expected to
return home after decades in Pakistan and Iran.

WOOD

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