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Cablegate: Rwanda: Unhcr Managing Scarcity and Increased

VZCZCXYZ0013
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #0258/01 1011219
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101219Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5220
INFO RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0220
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 0275
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 1089
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1858
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0410
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0197
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1176
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0451

UNCLAS KIGALI 000258

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR PRM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PREF RW
SUBJECT: RWANDA: UNHCR MANAGING SCARCITY AND INCREASED
NUMBERS


1. (U) Summary: Managing the Congolese refugee population in
Rwanda presented a significant challenge to UNHCR and its
implementing partners. Congolese continue to arrive in the
camps, and the camp birth rate adds significantly to the
refugee population. The camps are overcrowded, with space
allocations below SPHERE standards. With the exception of
food, all indicators to measure refugee care and maintenance
are below the established standards. In light of the
political situation in the DRC, it is unlikely that: 1)
refugees will not arrive in 2008-2009, or 2) significant
repatriation will alleviate camp crowding in the same period.
In the coming year, maintaining the present level of camp
services will require an increase in resources that UNHCR
does not expect to achieve. End summary.

-----------------------------------------
CAMP POPULATION GROWS AS RESOURCES SHRINK
-----------------------------------------

2. (U) In the first three months of 2008, ARC registered
3,337 new arrivals at the Nyabiheke refugee camp. The camp,
originally built to hold a maximum of 5000 refugees, has a
population of 8,582. The additional refugees placed an
unexpected demand on camp resources, and on the environment.
Firewood, the principal fuel for refugees, is in short
supply. Foraging by refugees in the neighboring fields and
forests resulted in isolated incidents of violence between
refugee youth and the surrounding Rwandan population. As a
result of the topography of the camp, refugee shelters are
clustered together in a way that precludes the privacy and
healthy separation foreseen by SPHERE standards.

3. (U) The condition of refugee shelters was generally poor.
In the Gihembe camp, refugees did not have sufficient
building materials to repair weather damage and deterioration
of their homes. Plastic sheeting, supplied by UNHCR in 2008
to serve as roofing material, was of poor quality, leading to
water damage to the mud and wattle construction of the
shelters. UNHCR protection officers told RefCoord the
plastic sheeting they received recently was of a uniformly
inferior quality. However, they had no replacement
materials, and had no control over the quality of materials
they received from UNHCR logistics.

4. (U) Wood for fires and for construction was in short
supply. The Government of Rwanda (GOR) placed some areas
close to camps off limits for wood harvesting, forcing
Rwandan camp authorities and UNHCR to transport wood from
designated areas to the camp. Even with these measures, wood
was in chronically short supply.

5. (U) The picture was similar in all the Congolese camps in
Rwanda. The slow increase in refugee numbers and the age of
the camp infrastructure led to a steady decrease in UNHCR's
ability to maintain standards of service provision. ARC and
UNHCR were effectively managing the resources at their
disposal, making hard decisions about priorities for building
and rehabilitation. ARC distributed wooden poles to serve as
the framework for new housing. Working with refugee
committees, ARC was overseeing the rehabilitation of key camp
facilities such as the health clinics and centers for the
prevention of gender based violence. ARC camp managers had
some small success encouraging refugee committees to rebuild
shelters.

---------------------------------
Q---------------------------------
BENEFICIARY PROGRAMMING ON TARGET
---------------------------------

6. (U) Key programs for refugees continued and were meeting
program targets. Camp managers reported a high coverage for
immunization programs, and the health profile for refugees
was similar to that of the local population. HIV/AIDS
programs supported by PEPFAR funds were well managed.
Refugees had access to information about avoiding HIV
infection, and those living with HIV were protected by
refugee committees and camp workers from discrimination.
Programs to prevent and address gender based violence were
meeting grant targets. Unfortunately, the participation of
men in GBV programs lagged well behind the targets dictated
by UNHCR and ARC program plans.

7. (U) The GOR appeared to have a good working relationship
with UNHCR in Kigali and in the field. Officers of the
Ministry for Local Government (MINALOC) were present at all
the camps, and had regular contact with UNHCR. In the camps,
the MINALOC officers appeared to have regular contact with
refugees and camp management.

--------------------------------------------- --
PROTECTION PROBLEMS FOR UNHCR, GOR AND PARTNERS
--------------------------------------------- --

8. (U) After a three-month gap, a new senior protection
officer began working in Kigali. During RefCoord's visit,
the officer was only beginning her assessment of protection
issues. She listed the shortage of firewood among her most
difficult protection challenges. UNHCR took over the
distribution of firewood in 2007. Since that time, shortages
continued in all the camps.

9. (U) The GOR was concerned with reforestation, and policed
the collection of firewood in and around the refugee camps.
Refugees foraged to meet household needs, in violation of the
law, provoking anger among the local population.

10. (U) Access to services and identity documents was also a
concern for refugees. Congolese refugees had never been
issued identity cards that would assure their freedom of
movement, and access to facilities in Rwanda. The GOR
undertook to issue identity cards for refugees after
completing the ongoing national identity card programs for
Rwandan citizens.

11. (U) UNHCR was concerned that the GOR was slow in
completing status determinations for asylum seekers. The
identification of unaccompanied minors in the camps and among
asylum seekers was also an important protection concern.
UNHCR was working closely with the government to improve
MINALOC capacity to provide refugee and asylum services.

12. (U) Overcrowding in the camps made land another important
protection issue. The GOR and UNHCR were working together to
identify suitable sites for a new refugee camp. The GOR
submitted three sites to UNHCR planners in March 2008. UNHCR
rejected one sight immediately. Proposals for the two
remaining sites were submitted to UNHCR headquarters for
further study. UNHCR-Rwanda is confident the GOR will open a
new site in fiscal year 2009.

--------------------------------------
PLANNING SCENARIOS FOR UNHCR IN RWANDA
--------------------------------------

13. (U) UNHCR was preparing to deal with three possible
scenarios for Congolese refugees in 2009-2010. The first and
most likely scenario is the status quo. Refugees would
continue to arrive at the present rate, and the land
available for their use would remain restricted. In this
scenario, an increase in funding would be needed to maintain
the minimal standards for care and maintenance.

14. (U) In the second, less likely scenario, refugees,
encouraged by peace and stability at home, register in large
numbers for repatriation to DRC. In this instance, the
logistic support to manage returns would be synchronized with
the absorption capacity in the regions of return within the
DRC.

15. (U) The third scenario supposes an influx of refugees
from the DRC sparked by failed peace talks, or violence
between armed groups contending for power in the Kivus. That
scenario presented the gravest consequences for UNHCR in
Rwanda. Responding to an influx would require UNHCR to
QRwanda. Responding to an influx would require UNHCR to
quickly call on emergency resources from Geneva, and from
other UN organizations already present in Rwanda. Given the
present land situation, a significant influx could easily
snowball into the kind of complex emergency for which the
"One UN" concept was designed.

16. (U) Comment: UNHCR and partners are doing a good job of
managing scarcity. However, shortages are forcing local

actors to concentrate of maintaining refugees at a level just
under SPHERE standards. In the event of repatriation to DRC,
refugees and refugee agencies are ill prepared to manage a
complex return scenario. Cross-border cooperation is
limited, and refugees are not practicing self-reliance in a
way that would prepare them to begin life again in a
post-conflict DRC. End comment.

SIM

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