Cablegate: Ngo-Io Coordination Meetings in Ankara

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) DART Field Office/North hosted a 22 March NGO/IO
coordination meeting in Ankara to discuss the NGO
registration process with the Turkish government, memorandums
of understanding for working in or transiting Turkey, and
options for entering northern Iraq through other countries.
Sixteen international and non-governmental organizations
expecting to be involved in the humanitarian response in
Turkey or northern Iraq were represented. Additionally, two
representatives of the U.S. military attended the meeting to
brief the humanitarian community on the military,s proposed
humanitarian activities and how it might cooperate with
humanitarian workers inside Iraq. UN OCHA agreed to host
future coordination meetings.

2. (U) UN OCHA hosted a subsequent NGO/IO coordination
meeting on 25 March. UNHCR, IOM, UNICEF and WFP briefed the
representatives of eight NGOs, IFRC and the American Red
Cross on their current and proposed humanitarian activities
in Turkey and northern Iraq. Following the briefings, NGOs
gave updates on their registration with the Turkish
government and presented their proposed activities in Turkey
and northern Iraq. DART Field Office/North will continue to
attend and monitor these meetings while in Turkey.

NGOs Registering with the Turkish Government

3. (SBU) At present, the registration process and the
timeframe for completing registration with the MFA remain
unclear. In commenting on this process, UN OCHA declared it
quote a work in progress unquote. The UN believed that the
MFA would provide answers to NGO questions about registration
the week of 24 March. On 10 March IRC submitted its request
to both work in Turkey and transit through to northern Iraq,
and they hoped to receive an official response from the MFA
by the end of March (Comment: There has been no response from
MFA on either issue. End comment). A number of NGOs asked
if their concerns and their need to move forward could
somehow be relayed to the MFA.

4. (SBU) While registration is in process, there remain a
number of outstanding issues for NGOs. First, it is unclear
what bureaucratic actions will be necessary for each transit
or shipment of commodities through Turkey. Second, it is
also unclear for how long a transit permit will be valid.
Some NGOs had the impression that the permit would be valid
for only one transit, but UN OCHA stated that the MFA was
looking at granting them for quote a window of time unquote.

5. (SBU) The UN Joint Logistics Center representative stated
that UNJLC was evaluating the Syrian corridor for supplying
northern Iraq. He reported that WFP and UNICEF were also
looking at the viability of this option. International
Medical Corps representatives contacted the Syrian
authorities but were informed that international NGOs were
not being registered at this time. In response, the UN
representatives said that this could be old information, and
that NGOs should inquire again. The UN stated that if the
clearances through Syria were a problem, NGOs could possibly
use the UN umbrella.

Working in Turkey and northern Iraq

6. (U) UNHCR,s deputy representative for Turkey noted that
the UN would be taking part in meetings at the Turkish
government,s Crisis Coordination Center in Diyarbakir
beginning the week of 24 March. Daily meetings are scheduled
to deal with humanitarian issues in Turkey, including
refugees and border activities.

7. (U) UNHCR noted that there was now a new Crisis Management
structure that NGOs might use for registration, and that it
may prove faster than normal channels for moving registration
along. UNHCR believes there is good will on the part of the
Turkish government and that the process may become more

8. (U) Several NGOs (the International Rescue Committee
(IRC), Northwest Medical Team International, World Relief -
through their local partner, Global Source Network - and
CARE) expressed an interest in working with UNHCR in Turkey
if the need arises. Save the Children expressed interest in
community services, and Oxfam is looking at possible programs
along the Turkish-Iraqi border and over the border if UNHCR
works there. While pleased with the interest, UNHCR informed
the NGOs that travel to the southeast region of Turkey was
restrictive, and people should not attempt to visit the
region without proper clearances from the MFA.

9. (SBU) Most of the NGOs present at the meetings said they
will work in northern Iraq. They are CARE, SCF, IRC, the
International Medical Corps (IMC) and Shelter for Life
(formerly Shelter Now). CARE, SCF, IRC and IMC have all
submitted proposals to USAID/OFDA for cooperative agreements
to work in Iraq.

U.S. Military

10. (SBU) At the 22 March meeting, representatives from the
U.S. military spoke about the military,s civil affairs
program and the possibilities for cooperating with
humanitarian workers once their organizations were inside
northern Iraq. Sharing security and assessment information
and logistical support, if available, were mentioned. A
lively discussion followed the presentation, centering on the
diverse concerns and needs that the military and humanitarian
agencies have to reach their respective goals and objectives.

Working in Turkey, continued

11. (SBU) In the second coordination meeting in three days,
UNHCR,s representative for Turkey informed the NGOs that
planning for refugees and asylum seekers was ongoing with the
Turkish government and the Turkish Red Crescent Society
(Kizilay). The representative stated that pre-positioning
supplies had been difficult, and that UNHCR was still seeking
clarification from the Turkish government on camp sites
within Turkey, border issues and possible activities inside
northern Iraq.

12. (SBU) UNHCR plans to pre-position commodities for up to
136,000 refugees. They currently have tents and other
non-food items for 60,000-70,000 persons. UNHCR is also
planning for 56,000 potential refugees or asylum seekers who
will arrive at the Turkish-Iraqi border but not be admitted
to Turkey.

13. (U) Agreements have been made with partner UN agencies to
provide services to UNHCR in Turkey. IOM will provide
transport, WFP will provide food and UNICEF will provide
services in health, nutrition and mine awareness. UNHCR will
provide protection and community services. The
representative asked the NGOs to consider what services they
might provide to UNHCR in Turkey if the need arises.

14. (SBU) WFP has pre-positioned 30,000 metric tons of dry
food stocks in two warehouses in Turkey that, according to
UNHCR, will provide them with four weeks of rations. WFP
also has 6,200 metric tons of wheat flour, 3,600 metric tons
of vegetable oil and 3,000 metric tons of biscuits that they
are targeting for Iraq.

15. (U) IOM is responsible for caring for third-country
nationals in Turkey, although few are expected. IOM also
will provide transport for refugees and medical services.
They have local medical staff but would require additional
medical support if a large influx of refugees was to occur.

Northern Iraq

16. (U) The Northern Iraq Field Representative for UNICEF and
the WFP Logistics Officer stationed in Ankara spoke about the
situation in northern Iraq. WFP and UNICEF have functioning
offices in northern Iraq, and they are in daily contact with
local staff members in Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.
Expatriate staff were evacuated before the start of the war.
WFP also has offices in Mosul and Kirkuk, but there has been
no contact since the war began.
17. (SBU) WFP has conducted assessments in northern Iraq, and
they are prepared to move 100,000 metric tons of food over
the border if it is needed. Transport has been engaged for
this amount. The Northern Iraq Field Representative for
UNICEF stated that there had been two years of good rain in
the region and that good harvest, complimenting the WFP food
stocks, will lessen food needs. The Field Representative
went on to say, however, that a major influx of displaced
persons would strain this situation. In preparing for a
possible influx of IDPs, UNICEF has moved some supplies away
the frontline. Eighteen camp sites have been set up and, if
there is a need, public buildings have been identified and
could be made available.

18. (SBU) The UNICEF Field Representative informed the NGOs
and IOs present that following the onset of the war as many
as 600,000 people had moved in the Kurdish-controlled region
of Iraq. People moved from cities to villages and into the
mountains, fearing that the Iraqi forces might shell the
cities. After 48 hours, the vast majority of these people
returned to their homes. The Field Representative stated
that there had been no movements toward the Turkish and
Iranian borders.

19. (SBU) UNICEF reports that there are now 250,000 to
280,000 IDPs in the Kurdish-controlled region. Local
authorities are trying to persuade people to return to their
homes. They worry that if the frontline does open and there
is a large influx of people, empty homes could be occupied by

20. (U) The UNICEF Field Representative noted that there are
potential problems in northern Iraq, as well as some
strengths in the communities. There is a shortage of fuel
and it is three to four times its normal price. There are
needs in shelter and medicine, particularly in pediatrics and
maternal care. Budgets are tight, and there is a need for
training in the health sector as many qualified people have
either left the region or not had access to up-to-date
educational opportunities. Strengths cited are good local
capacity (e.g., organization, management and skill levels)
and communications.

21. (U) UN OCHA will host another NGO/IO coordination meeting
on 2 April at UN House in Ankara.


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