Cablegate: Wfp's Collaboration with Unhcr in Providing Food

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

REF: (A) ROME 04340

(C) SECSTATE 183319


1. John Brooks, Project Budget Specialist, U.S. Mission to
the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture (FODAG), and Mary
Margaret Knudson, Refugee Officer, U.S. State Department's
Office of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM),
conducted a joint assessment of the collaboration between
the World Food Program (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) regarding the delivery of food aid to
refugees in western Tanzania, August 28 September 2,
2003. Tanzania hosts the world's largest refugee
population, nearly 500,000. Reduced food rations, under-
resourced income-generating activities, refugee movement
and land restrictions by the Government of Tanzania (GOT)
have worked together to create a challenging situation for
refugees. Furthermore, questionable refugee population
figures could leave some WFP food aid donors with a
stomachache. End Summary.


2. More refugees reside in Tanzania than in any other
country in Africa. According to figures from WFP and
UNHCR, Tanzania hosts nearly 500,000 refugees in camps with
an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 additional refugees
integrated locally. This represents a slight decrease in
the overall refugee population receiving international
assistance in organized camps. As recently as August 2003,
UNHCR reported that Tanzania was hosting over 1,000,000
refugees, with approximately 513,000 in camps.

3. The majority of refugees in Western Tanzania are from
Burundi (340,850), while the remaining refugees are from
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (149,788), Somalia
(3250), Rwanda and other countries.


4. Unlike in Uganda (Ref A), the GOT and many of the
communities that surround the country's refugee camps have
grown less welcoming and tolerant of the refugees within
their borders in recent years. Mission met with a number
of district-level GOT representatives who made clear that
refugees were to be seen as temporary asylum seekers and
not as candidates for integration into Tanzanian
communities. Some GOT officials blamed refugees for an
increase in crime in the refugee-affected areas.

5. In response to the rise in crime, the GOT suspended its
four-kilometer rule, which had allowed refugees to engage
in cultivation and other activities within a four-kilometer
radius of their camps. This rule was first suspended in
Kasulu district in early March 2003. The level of
enforcement of this suspension varies from district to
district. For example, it has been more strictly enforced
in the Kigoma and Kibondo areas. As a result, refugees
have become increasingly dependent on the food assistance
they receive from WFP because they cannot travel outside
the camp to participate in income-generating activities or
work on neighboring farms.

6. The GOT is also much less generous than the Government
of Uganda (GOU)(Ref A) with the amount of agricultural land
it allots to refugees. According to WFP, in 1998, the land
that the GOT had earlier allocated for refugees'
agricultural activities outside the camps was reduced by 45
percent. Therefore, most of the camps remained only with
the four-kilometer outside perimeter -- most of which land
was already in use by local Tanzanian villages -- and
kitchen gardens. These kitchen gardens vary in size from
7.5 meters by 15 meters to 40 meters by 50 meters. In some

camps, there are plots of land for common agricultural
activities. This makes it more difficult for them to grow
their own food with which to supplement WFP rations.


7. Before the 2000 Joint Assessment Mission (JAM), refugee
food rations were at 1991 kcal per person, per day.
Following the 2000 JAM, rations were reduced to 1857 kcal.
This level was determined because the evaluators felt that
the refugees could supplement their ration with farming and
other coping mechanisms. In addition, the donors felt
strongly for the reduction as a component of an envisioned
self-reliance strategy for the refugees. This
recommendation went into effect in August 2001.

8. In February 2003, WFP was forced to cut refugee food
rations in Tanzania due to a break in the pipeline.
Between February and April 2003, maize was being
distributed at 50 percent of the full ration ("full ration"
in Tanzania is 1857 kcal per person, per day). It then
went up to 72 percent until July 2003, when it was
increased to 100 percent. As recently as June 2003, pulses
and corn-soy blend (CSB) were being distributed at 75
percent of the full ration, while vegetable oil was being
distributed at 50 percent (Ref B).

9. WFP's appeal for assistance from the international
donor community led to contributions of both cash and in-
kind commodities. The USG contributed 44,860 MT of food
valued at approximately USD 23.2 million and USD 4.4
million in cash, the European Community Humanitarian Office
(ECHO) contributed 10 million Euro, while Europe Aid
contributed an additional 10 million Euro.

10. These contributions facilitated WFP's recent move to
raise the vegetable oil ration to 100 percent as of
September 2003. WFP intends to increase the CSB and pulses
rations to 100 percent as of the beginning of October 2003.

11. WFP reports that its current pipeline insures full-
ration distributions through July 2004. If new commitments
are not received by February 2004, however, WFP foresees
future pipeline breaks.

12. Refugees anecdotally reported that decreases in
rations contribute to increased cases of refugee girls
trading sex for grain milling costs, school fees or food.
Refugees generally said that the only food they eat comes
from WFP. They reported not having additional sources of
income with which to supplement their rations. Refugees
also indicated that they exchanged WFP commodities for non-
food items, including pots and cooking utensils.


13. Refugees are engaged in a number of income-generating
activities sponsored by UNHCR and designed to decrease
their dependence on food assistance. These activities
include basket weaving, soap production and raising

14. These activities appear to be having limited success.
Due to the movement restrictions imposed by the GOT and the
lack of a market outside of the immediate area of the
camps, many of these activities have little chance of
achieving profitability or expansion. For example, the
only revenue generated by a basket-weaving initiative came
from the charitable contributions of government, UN and
donor-government officials who were visiting the camps.
Indeed, during our visit we were encouraged to buy
something in support of the initiative. A number of these
projects do not make enough money to cover their production

15. The inevitable weakness of these projects and other
coping mechanisms is further reinforced by the fact that
GOT does not support them because they fear that they could

lead to local integration, something that the GOT wishes to
discourage. For example, suspension of the four-kilometer
rule prevents refugees from working on the land of local
Tanzanian farmers.


16. Each year WFP and UNHCR conduct joint food assessments
of refugee camps in Tanzania. This year's assessment
covered a wider range of issues, not just food security,
and was done June 16-26, 2003.

17. Among its findings was recognition that the refugee
ration level should be increased beyond 1857 kcal per
person, per day; the GOT should be encouraged to be more
lenient towards the movement of refugees and their
interactions with the surrounding communities; and UNHCR
should assist refugees in gaining access to wider markets
for their handicrafts.


18. It is UNHCR's responsibility to register refugees.
Refugee registration was last conducted in Tanzania in late
2001, nearly 2 years ago.

19. Some UN field staff believe that the refugee count in
camps in Tanzania is inflated. In one instance in
particular an interlocutor estimated that the inflation
could be as high as 20-30 percent, although this estimate
has been called into question and he was not able to offer
any concrete evidence.

20. UNHCR/Tanzania will serve as the pilot for a new
initiative for registering refugees. This system, known as
biometrics, involves retinal scanning and/or fingerprint
analysis to identify and register refugees. UNHCR should
begin the pilot program within the year.


21. In response to concerns that it was more concerned
with replenishing depleted buffer stocks as opposed to
providing refugees the full ration (Ref C), WFP responded
that it was not sitting on a supply of excess or buffer
commodities while refugee food ration levels were less than
100 percent.

22. WFP representatives explained that having a two month
buffer stock simply meant that they try to retain a two-
month supply in the camps at all times in case of any
logistic hiccups that might arise. It is not/not
additional in any way. Rather, it is a part of their in-
country stocks and an integral part of the food pipeline.


23. Notwithstanding WFP's move to increase refugee food
rations above 1857 kcal per person, per day, concerns
remain as to whether or not this ration level is adequate.
There are those who believe that the current level is
adequate, while others advocate that the level should be
raised to the international standard, which is 2100 kcal
per person, per day.

24. The recent JAM assessment, while supportive of an
increase in the current ration level, was inconclusive as
to what the appropriate ration level should be.

25. The JAM assessment also found that the fluctuations in
the ration level had no impact on the overall malnutrition
level of refugees. However, a recent UNHCR/UNICEF
nutrition report concludes that ration cuts and government

restrictions on the movements of the refugees contribute to
higher levels of malnutrition in the Tanzanian camps.

26. UNCHR was questioned as to why Tanzania was not chosen
as a country for the implementation of a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between WFP and UNHCR that transfers
some responsibilities for refugee feeding from UNHCR to
WFP. UNHCR responded that they were hesitant to experiment
with such a large refugee population and thought that such
a move would weaken their link with the refugees. This
rationale appears weak and it is hence recommended that
this issue be further reviewed by WFP and UNHCR.

27. Exaggerated figures of the overall refugee population
in camps should be of great concern to WFP and the donor
community and highlight the need for an updated
registration of refugees.

28. Efforts by WFP and UNHCR to encourage the GOT to relax
the movement restrictions on refugees should be supported.

2003ROME04672 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Save The Children: Ukraine: 21 Children Killed Or Injured In Horrific Week Of Violence

At least 21 children have been killed or injured in just a week in an uptick of violence across Ukraine, Save the Children said today... More>>

UN: Visionary ‘Blue Transformation’ Strategy To Enhance Underwater Food Systems

Record levels of fisheries and aquaculture production are making a critical contribution to global food security, the UN Ocean Conference under way in Lisbon, Portugal, heard on Wednesday...

Abu Akleh Shooting: Fatal Shot Came From Israeli Forces, Says OHCHR
Israeli forces were behind the fatal shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank - not indiscriminate Palestinian firing - the UN human rights office, OHCHR, alleged on Friday... More>>

UN: General Assembly Must Affirm Right To Healthy Environment

With the world embroiled in a multi-faceted environmental crisis, UN experts* today urged the United Nations General Assembly to recognise that living... More>>

UN Ocean Conference: Opens With Call For Urgent Action To Tackle Ocean Emergency
With climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution exacting a devastating toll on the world’s ocean — critical to food security, economic growth and the environment... More>>

World Vision: Deeply Concerned For Thousands Affected By Afghanistan Quake
World Vision is deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in the wake of a powerful earthquake in the early hours of this morning... More>>