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Cablegate: Democratic Republic of Congo -- Fy 2009 Disaster

R 141355Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8602
INFO RWANDA COLLECTIVE
USMISSION GENEVA
USMISSION UN ROME
USEU BRUSSELS
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000881


AIDAC

AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA- KLUU, ACONVERY, KCHANNELL, MSHIRLEY
AID/W FOR DCHA/FFP- TANDERSON, NCOX, TMCRAE
AID/W FOR DCHA/OTI- RJENKINS, KHUBER
AID/W FOR AFR- KALMQUIST, JWOOD, CTHOMPSON
NAIROBI FOR USAID/OFDA/ARO- JMYER, ADWYER
NAIROBI FOR USAID/FFP- DSUTHER
ROME FOR USUN FODAG- RNEWBERG
GENEVA FOR NYKLOH
NSC FOR PMARCHAM
BRUSSELS FOR USAID PLERNER
NEW YORK FOR TMALY
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF CG
SUBJECT: Democratic Republic of Congo -- FY 2009 Disaster
Declaration

1. (U) Summary: Fighting between government forces and armed groups
controlling territory in rural areas in Orientale, North Kivu and
South Kivu Provinces resulted in additional population displacements
in FY 2008, with most of those displaced expected to be unable to
return to their homes for much of FY 2009. The government of the
country has helped establish commissions to work to restore peace
and provide assistance to displaced populations, but humanitarian
needs greatly exceed its capacity to respond and may well increase.
The Charge d'Affaires has determined that the ongoing emergency is
of sufficient magnitude to warrant continued U.S. Government (USG)
emergency response assistance in FY 2009. The Government of the DRC
(GDRC) appreciates USG humanitarian assistance and will continue to
welcome USG contributions. As it continues to be in the interests
of the USG to provide such assistance, the Charge d'Affaires
re-declares a disaster in the DRC for FY 2009 and requests continued
funding from USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).
End summary.

2. (U) Though much of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
remained calm in FY 2008, ongoing conflict in the eastern provinces
of Orientale, North Kivu and South Kivu resulted in an increase in
population displacement and a significant worsening of the
humanitarian situation in some areas. In the southern part of North
Kivu alone, fighting between government forces and troops loyal to
renegade General Laurent Nkunda caused the displacement of over
500,000 additional persons, few of whom have yet been able to return
to their homes. The conflict has directly affected the northernmost
parts of South Kivu and may be fueling a smaller but similar
insurrection in South Kivu's High Plateau area. In Ituri, the one
remaining active militia group grew stronger rather than weaker and,
profiting from the need by the government and MONUC to shift
considerable numbers of troops from Ituri to North Kivu to respond
to the more acute crisis there, began expanding the territory it
controls, causing renewed instability.

3. (U) As a consequence of the increased turmoil in North Kivu,
USAID/OFDA was obliged in FY 2008 to reverse an earlier decision to
complete its withdrawal from the financing of primary health care
services and to instead begin funding new health projects targeting
displaced populations and host communities in that province. To the
extent possible given the degree of insecurity, USAID/OFDA also
financed several International Non-Governmental Organizations
(INGOs) to implement projects designed to increase the level of food
security for affected populations and to ensure their access to safe
water and acceptable sanitation facilities. Finally, USAID/OFDA
facilitated the overall humanitarian response by continuing its
subsidy of air transportation for humanitarian goods and personnel.

4. (U) As FY 2009 begins, few observers are optimistic with regards
to the prospects for a peaceful resolution to the various disputes
anytime in the immediate future. Peace agreements signed in January
2008 have been flagrantly violated, and political discourse is
increasingly belligerent. While even current humanitarian
assistance requirements far exceed the GDRC response capacity, most
humanitarian workers are predicting an increase in instability and a
corresponding substantial increase in humanitarian needs in the
coming months. The possibility that instability will reach densely
populated areas such as Rutshuru, and rapidly doubling or tripling
response requirements, remains high.

5. (U) In January 2008, the GDRC sponsored a large peace conference
in Goma to try to bring about an end to the conflict and to organize
the facilitation of return of IDPs to their home communities.
During the year, it jointly worked with MONUC and rebel
representatives to establish commissions tasked with implementing
decisions of the conference. Though these efforts have yet to
produce much improvement in the humanitarian situation, the GDRC
continues to support the commissions and continues to invite
contributions and participation from the international community.

6. (U) Disaster assistance funding is needed to respond to the
immediate needs of newly displaced persons, returnees, and other
war-affected and vulnerable individuals in FY 2009. A continuation
of humanitarian assistance is in the USG's interest as a means of
supporting DRC's transition to peace and democracy and promoting
greater regional stability. A withdrawal of USG humanitarian
assistance would signal a decline in support to national and
regional peace and transition processes, and would leave critical
gaps in life-saving humanitarian activities.

7. (U) The Charge d'Affaires has determined that the complex
humanitarian emergency in the DRC brought about by the 1998-2003
conflict and its aftermath continues to be of significant magnitude
to warrant USG assistance. A disaster for 2009 is thus formally
re-declared and a request made for a continuation of USAID/OFDA
emergency response assistance. Post will make more specific
recommendations in future communications.

Brock

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