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Cablegate: Uganda: Unhcr Preparing for Congolese Returns to Drc

VZCZCXYZ0011
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKM #0727 1561252
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041252Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0369
INFO RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0986
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 2393
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1029

UNCLAS KAMPALA 000727

DEPT FOR PRM/AFR, GENEVA FOR RMA

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF EAID PINS UG CG
SUBJECT: Uganda: UNHCR Preparing for Congolese Returns to DRC

1. (SBU) Summary: On May 29, 2008, RefCoord met with acting UNHCR
country Representative, Montserrat Vihe, in Kampala. Vihe said that
the Government of the DRC had invited the Government of Uganda to
attend tripartite discussions in Kinshasa in the coming weeks. The
GoU, in anticipation of the meetings requested UNHCR funding for the
travel of Office of the Prime Minister Refugee officer Douglas
Asiimwe, and Refugee, and one assistant to attend the meetings. End
summary.

CONGOLESE MAY BE GOING HOME FROM UGANDA
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) According to Vihe, UNHCR in Bunia, DRC reported that
Congolese, refugees and others, are crossing the border from Uganda
and the DRC and requesting assistance. As of May 2008, UNHCR-Uganda
had not registered any Congolese departures from the Ugandan
settlements. However, Vihe said her office would check to verify
the information from the DRC. The GoU reported that as many as 100
Congolese crossed back into the DRC in the past week.

3. (SBU) Vihe opined that any border crossers could be returning
home to work and maintaining residence in the settlements to receive
service. The Uganda-DRC border is poorly patrolled, and only
partially demarcated. Monitoring movements was difficult for both
UNHCR and the GoU.

4. (SBU) UNHCR could not dismiss the possibility that armed groups
from North Kivu were not recruiting young people into their ranks
within the DRC. However, refugees in Uganda had not reported
recruitment attempts.

INTENTION SURVEYS SHOW LITTLE RETURN INTEREST
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (SBU) Vihe said that Congolese refugees, when asked, showed
little interest in return to DRCongo. The refugees sited security
concerns as their chief reason for staying in Uganda. Vihe said she
believed that once security returned to the Kivus, refugees would
return in significant numbers. According to Vihe's estimate, the
lack of services at home, and relative comfort of Uganda would not
influence families to remain in Uganda.

UNHCR-DRC PREPARING FOR RETURNS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. (SBU) UNHCR-DRC was preparing for the tripartite meeting and for
the returns of Congolese from Uganda. Uganda accepted the
invitation to the technical meetings and Senior Refugee Officer
Douglas Asiimwe planned to travel to Kinshasa on June 12, 2008.

7. (SBU) To facilitate operations in the Kivus, UNHCR assigned a
senior staff member to the DRC office, The Chief of Office would
have some decision-making authority while still technically
reporting to UNHCR-Kinshasa. Strengthening the Goma office was a
concession to the difficulties of running the Kivu program from
Kinshasa. (Note: The Goma office of the UN Observer Mission to Congo
(MONUC), UNHCR's partner in the protection cluster, would assist
integration in the event of refugee returns to North Kivu).

8. (SBU) Vihe explained that logistical and administrative support
for the Goma and Bukavu UNHCR offices comes from Kampala, rather
than Kinshasa, because of the difficult communications links within
DRC. With more authority in Goma, UNHCR will be better able to
react to rapid changes in North and South Kivu. However, Vihe said
her office had little contact with the Kampala MONUC office.

Comment--UN Delivering Refugees as one
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9. (SBU) UNHCR should inform MONUC of all aspects of the
repatriation effort, beginning at the tripartite agreement stage.
The Uganda repatriation process will require close cooperation
between UNHCR and MONUC in DRC and in MONUC's branch office in
Kampala. The UNHCR Goma, DRC office and its Bunia sub-office will
be the key receiving office for DRC. MONUC would assist in the
resettlement, protection, and integration of the returnees. MONUC
political and military offices would be central to conflict
resolution in the event of difficulties between returnees and
long-term residents. End comment.

Browning

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