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Cablegate: Zim Humanitarian Crisis Grows: With Un Agencies

VZCZCXRO5165
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0553/01 1791454
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271454Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3095
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2000
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2095
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2215
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0753
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1492
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1850
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2271
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4702
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1361

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000553

AF/S FOR S.HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL
TREASURY FOR D. PETERS AND T.RAND
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN
DCHA/AA FOR MIKE HESS
AFR/AA FOR KATE ALMQUIST AND FRANKLIN MOORE
AFR/SA FOR ELOKEN, LDOBBINS, JKOLE
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, ACONVERY, TDENYSENKO, LTHOMAS
DCHA/FFP FOR JBORNS, JDWORKEN, LPETERSON, ASINK
PRETORIA FOR JWESSEL, GJUSTE
PRM FOR MCKELVEY, MLANGE
DRL FOR MDAVIS, KGILBRIDE

AIDAC
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREF PGOV PREL ZI
SUBJECT: ZIM HUMANITARIAN CRISIS GROWS: WITH UN AGENCIES
IMMOBILIZED, IDPS LOOK TO EMBASSIES

REF A: HARARE 503
REF B: HARARE 522
REF C: LUSAKA 684
REF D: MAPUTO 546

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

1. (U) The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe continues to worsen.
Politically motivated violence continues unabated. Humanitarian
space continues to shrink. Access to the most vulnerable
populations remains restricted. All this, combined with a high
level of uncertainty, and exacerbated by the Zimbabwean government's
(GOZ) decision to suspend humanitarian operations (Reftel A), has
turned an election into a complex humanitarian emergency. Over the
past week, internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to move
around the country and urban areas in an often futile search for
assistance and protection. Coordination efforts by UN and
international organizations have been inadequate, and the
humanitarian community is scrambling to address the growing
problems. The number of IDPs is expected to increase significantly
over the coming days as people flee a potential new campaign of
post-election political violence and repression. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --
Desperate IDPs look to embassies for protection
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) Over the past four days, in the wake of the Mugabe
regime's campaign of violence and displacement, including the recent
ban on most NGO activities and raid on the opposition headquarters
where some 2,600 IDPs had sought refuge, several hundred IDPs have
turned up at the front gate of the American Embassy compound seeking
urgent assistance. In the absence of a coordinated response by UN
agencies with IDP mandates (due to both the ban on activities and
the overtly political connections of this group of IDPs to the
opposition), emboffs managed to refer several dozen to local NGOs,
but safe houses and gathering places were limited. Dozens more IDPs
are sleeping in the park across the street from the Embassy, waiting
for some kind of large-scale solution. Church leaders, many of whom
are in hiding, do not want to open the churches to IDPs because they
know they cannot offer any protection. The Harare YWCA was recently
raided by ZANU-PF youth militia, and has reluctantly closed down.

3. (SBU) On June 25, the Embassy of South Africa allowed several
hundred IDPs seeking shelter to enter a parking lot on mission
grounds after armed riot police arrived on the scene. Despite
statements in the press by the South African ambassador on June 26
that they would not be allowed to stay, on June 27 emboffs noted
that there are now three tents in the parking lot, portable toilets,
and cooking stations. In effect, the South African Embassy's
parking lot, just two blocks away from USAID, has become an IDP camp
for about 300 people. On June 26, a large group of IDPs went to the

HARARE 00000553 002 OF 004


German embassy after hearing a rumor that European Union missions,
and specifically Germany, were willing to receive displaced people.
According to German diplomats, they refused the IDPs entry to the
Chancery compound. After several hours, unarmed neighborhood police
took away about 30 people in trucks. Their location is unknown.
The remaining 23 in the group fled the scene and returned to Harvest
House.

4. (SBU) These roaming IDPs face increasing harassment from
official and unofficial GOZ actors. As their desperation increases,
Post fears they will become more persistent in seeking shelter from
embassies. Small-scale, under-the-radar efforts of civil society
organizations and churches are attempting informal assistance
efforts, but are not managing to meet the needs. Larger NGO efforts
cannot be effectively mobilized due to the restriction on NGO
operations and threats from the GOZ security apparatus.

5. (SBU) The dramatic increase in IDPs requesting embassy help
appears to stem, in large part, from the June 23 police raid at the
MDC's headquarters, Harvest House (Reftel B). Since the raid, the
MDC has given supporters bus fare and encouraged them to return
home. However, many IDPs, particularly those from high-density
areas of Harare that continue to be wracked by violence and
intimidating mobs of ZANU-PF youths (e.g. Epworth, Mbare, and
Chitungwiza), refuse to return home. Having been turned away from
Harvest House, not trusting th5}Gh1H,jy is well known. His supporters
hope that embassies will offer them the same refuge.

----------------------------
Numbers unknown, but growing
----------------------------

6. (SBU) The UN's Office of Coordination for Humanitarian
Assistance (OCHA) estimates there more than 33,000 IDPs in the
country. However, this does not include many people recently
fleeing into urban areas. It is difficult to accurately estimate
the number of IDPs, given the void of existing information in the
wake of the governmental ban on NGO activity. OCHA has not
collected sufficient information on numbers or needs. Further
complications arise when attempting to define IDP populations in
this fluid context, and in calculating their numbers consistently.
For example, some organizations are calculating the numbers of IDPs
they assisted (with blankets, food, etc), but some of those people
have since found temporary shelter with relatives or friends. OCHA
has not found a way to distinguish "new" IDPs from those who were
formerly "assisted" and are still on the rolls.

7. (SBU) With the help of its partner NGOs, USAID is channeling
food and non-food items, (such as soap, sanitary cotton wool,
blankets, etc.) through the Catholic Development Commission (CADEC)
and their informal coalition of partner churches. These non-food

HARARE 00000553 003.2 OF 004


items have been pre-positioned at the district and parish level for
distribution to IDPs to prevent them from having to move large
distances in search of supplies and shelter. A few supplementary
feeding programs are still operating on a smaller scale, and minor
water and sanitation efforts continue in some districts. Most USAID
partner responses have been very small-scale and unofficial as a
result of the recent ban on NGO activity. This makes information
gathering extremely difficult in the absence of trustworthy partner
information collection.

----------------------------------
NGOs operating well below capacity
----------------------------------

8. (U) The majority of NGOs in Zimbabwe are operating with skeleton
staff and have pulled all assets in from their field offices, making
a nationwide response to IDP issues challenging. Additionally,
existing relief efforts are coming under increasing scrutiny from
security officials, and many church operations have ceased as a
result. Individuals providing help put themselves at risk of arrest
or worse. One Mission FSN was stopped this week for a couple hours
when police saw that his truck was full of clothing. He was forced
to produce receipts showing he had permission to transport the goods
and was only released after RSO intervention. Emboff's main contact
at Harvest House who was helping IDPs went into hiding early on June
27 after his home was visited by ZANU-PF youths threatening him.

-------------------------------------------
International Organizations slow to respond
-------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) Coordination mechanisms among NGOs, International
Organizations (IOs) and donors have been insufficient to respond to
the growing humanitarian crisis. Although UNHCR is the sectoral lead
for IDPs in Zimbabwe, the UN remains constrained by its own need to
consult with the GOZ. Little tangible action has been taken to
operationalize its leading role. OCHA is a weak actor (septel) and
has not effectively addressed growing coordination concerns among
donors. No consolidated contingency plan exists to address current
and potential IDP needs in a cohesive manner. The Mobile and
Vulnerable Population Working Group, currently chaired by IOM, has
provided the most meaningful efforts at humanitarian coordination to
date, and many USG partners are members of this group.

-------
COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) Zimbabwe urgently needs a cohesive solution to deal with
the thousands of displaced people that have nowhere to go. Embassy
protection cannot be a solution to this humanitarian crisis. Given
the absence of comprehensive, meaningful humanitarian coordination
and shrinking humanitarian working space, most threatened and
displaced Zimbabweans currently are unable to receive necessary

HARARE 00000553 004.2 OF 004


assistance in the form of the provision of food, shelter, and
necessary supplies.

11. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: The humanitarian community is
struggling to address the growing displaced population and the
escalating violence which may trigger even more significant
population movements. UN and international efforts to address the
growing problem of displacement and violence in Zimbabwe have been
woefully inadequate. Post continues to monitor the situation and
address needs as possible. A task force is being put into place at
USAID to establish and support structures in what we believe may
very well be a protracted situation. END COMMENT.

MCGEE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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