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Cablegate: Unhcr / Sag Contingency Planning for Anticipated

VZCZCXRO4140
RR RUEHJO
DE RUEHSA #1397/01 1781758
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261758Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4899
INFO RUEHOR/AMEMBASSY GABORONE 5281
RUEHLS/AMEMBASSY LUSAKA 3649
RUEHTO/AMEMBASSY MAPUTO 5877
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5729
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 8141
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001397

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PREF SF
SUBJECT: UNHCR / SAG CONTINGENCY PLANNING FOR ANTICIPATED
ZIMBABWE REFUGEE FLOWS

-------
Summary
-------

1. UNHCR Regional Representative Mr. Sanda Kimbimbi briefed
PolOffs on the UNHCR's Contingency Plan for potential mass
refugee flows from Zimbabwe after the June 27 runoff
election. The Plan provides for refugee camp sites in South
Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, and Zambia to shelter up to
285,000 Zimbabweans (Note: a conservative estimate. End
Note), with supplies now being stockpiled in Durban and
Dubai. Kimbimi is confident that the logistical requirements
for moving bulk humanitarian supplies overland from Durban or
by air from Dubai can be overcome. While upper echelons of
host states have been politically wary of discussing refugee
scenarios on Zimbabwe, midlevel officials with operational
responsibility are fully engaged in preparedness planning.
Camp populations of persons displaced by xenophobic violence
in South Africa in recent weeks have declined from a peak of
100,000 to a current 15,000, with UNHCR assisting the SAG on
enabling re-integration. End Summary.

------------------------
Plan for 285,000 Persons
------------------------

2. The Contingency Plan that UNHCR has put in place with
Zimbabwe's neighbors provides for refugee camp sites near
Zimbabwe's border to accommodate up to 285,000 Zimbabweans in
four countries -- 100,000 in South Africa; 80,000 each in
Mozambique and Botswana; and 25,000 in Zambia. In South
Africa, the Plan assumes refugees would cross the border at
Beitbridge, advance to Messina for registration and
documentation, then proceed to a field site at Artonvilla now
being prepared by UNHCR. (Note: The SAG strenuously avoids
the word "camp," so such sites are officially called "centers
for safe shelter." End Note) Similar sites are being
prepared in Mozambique (at Tete, Manica, and Gaza), Botswana
(Francistown / Dukwe), and Zambia (Livingston, Siavunga, and
Churundu).

-----------------------
Supply Stocks In Durban
-----------------------

3. Supplies for all four target countries are being
pre-positioned in Durban. Additional supplies in Dubai can
be called upon if necessary. These include a range of
nonperishable items to serve 50,000 persons, e.g. blankets,
cooking utensils, and 10,000 tents. Inventories should meet
the needs of 100,000 persons by mid-July -- with the possible
exception of tents, since China embargoed its exports after a
recent earthquake. Tents are on order from Pakistan, and
UNHCR is hunting for other UN stockpiles. In short, Kimbimbi
feels all is in place to respond if needed. Transport
logistics have proven reliable in test runs from Durban --
four days to Mozambique and three days to Botswana, and
Zambia a bit longer or perhaps supplied from Tanzania.

--------------------------
SAG Status and Protections
--------------------------

4. The UNHCR Plan assumes the SAG would recognize and
declare the Zimbabweans as refugees 'en masse,' entitling
them to standard protections. The SAG may uphold the
principle of free movement, entitling the new arrivals to
disperse to cities and townships; or it may restrict their
movement so as not to provoke repeats of recent attacks on
foreigners. UN conventions would require the SAG to grant
refugees the right to work and receive social services --
privileges the UNHCR acknowledges would likely be
controversial in the current xenophobic climate. (Note: The
Qcontroversial in the current xenophobic climate. (Note: The
SAG political directorate has, in principal, supported such
treatment of refugees, but the Department of Home Affairs has
been an inefficient means to that end. Moreover, there is
less of a grassroots consensus to be so open and welcoming to
African refugees, as reflected in the recent xenophobic
violence. End Note)

---------------------
SAG Local Cooperation
---------------------

PRETORIA 00001397 002 OF 002

5. Kimbimbi said the four receiving states were initially
reluctant to discuss contingency planning on Zimbabwe but
have since come on board. Hesitation was most marked in the
national upper echelons, sensitive to the political
ramifications of anticipating meltdown next door. At
provincial and local levels, however, there has been more
pragmatic traction, among officials who would be held
accountable for unpreparedness. The Deputy Director General
of SAG's Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and SAG's National
Disaster Management Center (NDMC) are both engaged in the
Plan, and UNHCR staff toured the planned site with all key
SAG departments who committed resources. The UNHCR declined
DHA's request to perform site management, preferring that DHA
itself assume this responsibility.

------------------------------
IDPs: Return and Reintegration
------------------------------

6. Current camp populations of victims displaced by recent
xenophobic violence have shrunk markedly from a peak of
100,000 in late May to UNHCR's current estimate of under
15,000. The largest part of the decline was repatriation of
about 40,000 Mozambicans. In Gauteng province, IDPs peaked
at an estimated 17,500 but are down to 6,500 now; an
estimated 7,500 remain in shelters in the Western Cape; and
an estimated 600 remain in care in KwaZulu Natal. UNHCR
hopes this 'hard core' remainder will continue to decline.
The UNHCR last week distributed flyers offering return of
citizens to safe countries, but stressing that resettlement
to other third countries was not a realistic prospect.

7. On behalf of these IDPs, Kimbimbi said the UNHCR has
advocated strongly for refugee documentation, regularization
of status, and stay of deportation. A project with the DHA
to issue a six-month identity card/permit (with security
features) to xenophobia victims is due to begin
implementation this week. For those IDPs, reintegration is
an option, said Kimbimbi, contingent on adequate policing in
affected areas, sensitization of local communities,
documentation to enable returnees to feel secure, and modest
monetary and material assistance. Given SAG reluctance to
set precedents it cannot sustain for future disaster victims,
UNHCR may be called on to provide such aid packages to
xenophobia IDPs.

TEITELBAUM

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