Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Ambassador's Fund for Refugees

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

291127Z Jan 04






E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Sri Lanka: Ambassador's Fund for Refugees

Ref: State 07199

1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified --
Please handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Mission requests USD 20,000 from the
2004 Ambassador's Fund for Refugees to support the
activities of CHF, a U.S.-based NGO, that provides
shelter for IDPs in northern Sri Lanka. In addition to
meeting a critical humanitarian need, this project would
underscore U.S. support for Sri Lanka's fragile peace
process. END SUMMARY.

3. (U) Per Reftel, Mission requests funding for
Community Housing Finance International (CHF), an
international NGO headquartered in the U.S., engaged in
providing transitional shelter to returning refugees and
internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Jaffna
Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka. Jaffna has the highest
concentation of returning refugees and IDPs in Sri
Lanka. (Note: There are about 500,000 IDPs in Sri
Lanka right now. Over 300,000 have returned to their
points of origin since the beginning of the peace
process in December 2001. There are approximately
100,000 refugees living in camps and elsewhere in India.
Of these, only a small number have returned to Sri
Lanka.) Many of those returning to areas in Jaffna
District are unable to resettle in their exact points of
origin due to the military's high security zones and
thus temporarily resettle elsewhere in Jaffna District.
At present, approximately 2,200 of these individuals are
housed in 90 welfare centers located throughout Jaffna

4. (U) Since August 2003, CHF has worked with UNHCR and
the GSL to provide assistance to targeted groups of
returning refugees and IDPs living in welfare centers.
As of the end of 2003, CHF had constructed 432 complete
shelter units, which housed over two thousand
individuals. These units, constructed in part from
local materials, can be defabricated to allow relocation
to permanent locations in the future. As a result of
CHF's efforts, an additional 247 further families (1,230
individuals) who have been living in seriously
substandard shanty-type shelters received additional
materials such as doors, cement, and sand for housing
improvements. The program has also provided tools,
training and income to over 90 previously unskilled
individuals living in the welfare centers. Under this
program, six locally constructed brick-making machines
use waste from an international demining project to
create low-cost, environmentally friendly bricks for
program needs. These cost a fraction of other locally
produced bricks, and CHF intends the brick-making
projects to sustain themselves as a local industry,
providing households with a means to generate income. A
vital aspect of CHF's work is its efforts to engage
local government officials in its projects.

5. (U) CHF is currently looking at a funding gap of
several months, and may have to cease operations until
new sources of funding are found. Given CHF's proven
track record in providing low-cost, high-impact shelter
to returnees, Mission recommends that funds in the
amount of 20,000 USD be made available from the
Ambassador's Fund for Refugees to help CHF continue its
shelter programs. With this funding, CHF could provide
technical assistance to local government officials on
implementing shelter programs, a key aspect for
sustaining the program in the mid- and longer term. In
the meantime, CHF has indicated that it will continue to
search for other sources of funding. Mission has
consulted with UNHCR, which has high praise for CHF and
recommended that the group be provided funding to meet
its short-term gap if at all possible.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: In addition to meeting a critical
humanitarian need, USG assistance to CHF would
underscore our commitment to the people of northern and
eastern Sri Lanka, who have suffered the most during Sri
Lanka's 1983-2001 ethnic conflict. In doing so, we
would also be underlining our strong support for Sri
Lanka's fragile peace process. Assistance to CHF is
congruent with USAID programs in the north/east and we
would highlight such assistance via public diplomacy
tools. Mission also certifies that it has the authority
and the capacity to award a grant to the intended
recipient agency before the end of the fiscal year. END

7. (U) Minimize considered.


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