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Cablegate: Joint U.S.-Ec Monitoring Trip Improves Donor

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 BRUSSELS 001655

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR PRM/AFR; EUR/ERA; AF/C; DEPARTMENT PLEASE
PASS USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF EAID PHUM PGOV BU TZ EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: JOINT U.S.-EC MONITORING TRIP IMPROVES DONOR
COORDINATION, HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN BURUNDI AND
TANZANIA

REF: STATE 52528

1. (SBU) Summary. In order to improve donor coordination and
to bring international attention to the humanitarian needs in
Burundi, the U.S. and the European Commission (EC) undertook
a joint monitoring mission from March 29-April 2 to assess
post-conflict needs and to monitor the work of implementing
partners. The overall deterioration of the social system in
Burundi will require years of humanitarian assistance to
bring living standards up to minimum levels. Nonetheless,
the Government of Burundi (GoB) is more interested in gaining
direct access to development funds in order to accommodate
the needs of returnees and other vulnerable people. The
steady, manageable stream of refugees from camps in Tanzania
is likely to continue, although UNHCR also has contingency
plans for a sudden massive inflow. The major success of the
joint monitoring team was bringing together different
agencies from both the U.S. and EC that represented a
comprehensive assistance mandate and which will facilitate
the link between relief and reconstruction. EC funds greatly
exceed USG assistance for Burundi. End Summary.

------------------------
Pilot Joint-Monitoring Mission: Strengthening Donor
Coordination
------------------------

2. (U) In order to take transatlantic donor coordination one
step further, the U.S. and EC conducted, for the first time
ever, a joint monitoring trip to one of the world's regions
emerging from civil conflict. In order to underscore the
fact that many of our largest humanitarian projects are in
Africa, and that a number of regional conflicts on that
continent are entering a resolution phase when refugees begin
returning home, the top two humanitarian donors chose Burundi
for this pilot mission. Apart from the transatlantic nature
of the pilot, each side brought together an interagency
delegation.

3. (U) Participants for the EC were: Dietmar Krissler (DG
Development Burundi desk officer); Gabriela Koehler-Raue (DG
Development Tanzania desk officer); Marc Stalmans (EuropeAid
post conflict programs manager); Susanne Martin (ECHO Burundi
desk officer); Angela Pollitzer (ECHO Tanzania desk officer);
Yorgos Kapranis (ECHO/Bujumbura); and Yves Horent (ECHO/Dar
es Salaam). USG participants were: Shane Hough (PRM/AFR);
Marc Meznar (USEU/PRM); Matthew McKeever (Kampala/PRM
Refcoord); Denise Gordon (Bujumbura/OFDA) and Robert Marks
(Bujumbura/POL-ECON).

------------------------
Mission Objectives and Results
------------------------

4. (SBU) The stated objectives of the joint mission were
accomplished as follows:

a) Increase transatlantic cooperation between the U.S. and
the EC in coordination of humanitarian assistance and
longer-term development needs (both at headquarters and field
levels)

-- From planning the mission to traveling to remote sites
together, a spirit of camaraderie was created that will
certainly facilitate direct communication between program
officers as they draft and decide on funding priorities in
the coming years. USG participants gained a better insight
into the various funding pots the EC draws from, including
limitations associated with each of these. Understanding the
parameters of the EC's 25 million euro, multi-year grant to
UNHCR via EuropeAid was particularly important, since PRM
frequently encourages the EC to channel more of its
assistance through international organizations.

-- Field staff also worked closely together in Bujumbura,
with the U.S. taking the lead in arranging meetings in the
capital while the EC organized the logistics for the field
trip to the Burundi-Tanzania border region. Transatlantic
cooperation in the field was strengthened through the joint
planning and travel.

b) Observe and exchange information on best practices in
monitoring/evaluation in the field

-- By listening to questions posed to the implementing
partners, both sides gained a better understanding of what
the funding agency considered appropriate and effective use
of donor funds. For example, the EC noted the USG practice
of asking governmental authorities about their working
relationships with implementing partners. Overall,
monitoring and evaluation techniques used by both sides were
remarkably similar.

c) Promote coordination in linking relief to rehabilitation
and reconstruction

-- The interagency composition of each delegation was perhaps
the most important lesson learned from the mission,
particularly because it involved planning a multi-year
strategy to link the immediate humanitarian needs with
longer-term development assistance. This mission marked the
first time the three funding entities of the EC had ever
traveled together.

-- The joint mission marked one of the first times that EC
desk officers responsible for neighboring countries in
different geographic regions (i.e., Great Lakes versus
southern Africa) had traveled jointly.

-- In the case of Burundi, the humanitarian needs are
overwhelming because 99% of the population lives below the
poverty line; humanitarian assistance will be needed long
after reconstruction has begun.
d) Assess the competing needs in terms of social and economic
rehabilitation and reintegration in Burundi of returning
refugees, internally displaced, and demobilized soldiers

-- In almost every meeting with international implementing
partners, the need to "de-label" those requiring assistance
was emphasized. According to many interlocutors, labeling
and providing different levels of assistance based on whether
individuals were refugees, internally displaced or former
combatants would be counter-productive in the long run.
Because the infrastructure in Burundi is so degraded, many
felt the best approach to humanitarian assistance would be to
focus on infrastructure upgrades to schools, health clinics,
etc. for the benefit of all, particularly in areas of return.


-- Of the three groups of vulnerable people considered, the
problem of demobilizing combatants was viewed as the most
complex because their possession of weapons gave them
leverage to demand greater assistance. Furthermore, the
psychosocial support to this category of vulnerable people,
particularly child soldiers, was deemed most critical.
Failure to provide schooling might make them vulnerable to
re-recruitment by rebel fighters and thus perpetuate the
cycle of violence.

e) Assess the accuracy of pre-departure information and
expectations in camps before returns begin

-- In general, refugees in the camps were well aware of the
degraded social services that currently exist in Burundi and
frequently cited this situation as a reason for remaining in
Tanzania. Some seemed to erroneously think that if a border
crossing had not yet been opened to their province of origin
(many were from Makamba province) they were not allowed to
return home voluntarily. Another major reason for not
returning was the fear of renewed ethnic violence,
particularly in a post-electoral period. Some refugee
leaders said that they would return only when the Burundian
security sector is reformed. Radio seemed to be the primary
venue for hearing news about developments in Burundi.

f) Monitor and verify procedures and numbers of returning
refugees at the Tanzania/Burundi border and conditions in
reception areas

-- On successive days, the joint delegation monitored the
Gisuru reception and transit center in Ruyigi. Overall,
UNHCR's organization and coordination with the various
entities working within the center was exceptional. Of the
registered refugees in the Tanzania camps, a total of 63,384
are from Ruyigi province; another 30,000 or so will also
transit through Gisuru to provinces neighboring Ruyigi. The
joint team found the actual number of returnees per convoy
(350) was a little lower than the estimated number per convoy
(500), the number UNHCR is working with when projecting its
workload for 2004. WFP has seemingly solved much of its
logistics problem in providing return packages / food rations
in support of returning refugees. The capacity of the Gisuru
reception and transit center was estimated by WFP as 3,000
returnees per week.

-- The transfer of health data from IRC (the NGO in charge
for health in the Kibondo, TZ camps) to AHA (health NGO
working with returnees at the transit center) is an area of
the operation that could use some revamping. The story of
the death of a diabetic young woman upon returning home to
Ruyigi because of inadequate medical oversight highlighted
the lack of cross-border coordination between UNHCR country
offices and health NGOs.

g) Assess programs in place to return displaced people to
regions of origin or newly established villages, as well as
rehabilitation and reintegration efforts

-- The GoB's idea to create villages was received with mixed
feelings by the displaced. Some, particularly women,
indicated that if conditions equaled those in the Tanzania
refugee camps they would consider relocating to a village.
Others insisted they would only return to their own land.

-- Conditions at a temporary settlement site for both
returning refugees and internally displaced persons in
Kabuyenge visited by the joint mission were extremely
primitive. However, returnees seemed to be upbeat even
though they expressed some safety concerns related to
bandits. A primary school that had been gutted was partially
restored allowing some education. Some expressed a wish to
settle permanently in Kabuyenge.

h) Assess government and UNHCR policies to facilitate
rehabilitation & reintegration of the above mentioned target
groups

-- Some officials and implementing partners argued that three
months worth of food for returnees was not enough to
facilitate reintegration, particularly got those who returned
during the dry season when planting could not begin
immediately. However, saddling refugees with even more food
items would not be tenable since the GoB was not fulfilling
its responsibility to transport returnees from UNHCR drop-off
points to final destinations. A solution, albeit
impractical, would be to provide the reintegration kits at
destination. As is, refugees sell off, at below market
value, food and NFI supplies -- something that minimizes
donor contributions and also negatively affects the local
market.

-- MSF/Belgium presented the results of an in-depth study
about the effect on child mortality from a GoB plan to
recover medical expenses by charging vulnerable populations
based on a sliding scale. In general, those made to pay half
of the overall expenses fared worse than those required to
pay just for the extras, like lab tests and medication.
Mortality rates of those who received free health care were a
fraction of the other two categories.

i) Assess institutional capacities of government and UNHCR to
deal with the load of returning refugees

-- The transitional government does not appear to be able to
meet the needs of returnees, even though official policy is
to encourage them to return. GoB officials visit camps in
Tanzania, describe conditions in the country and promise to
improve the infrastructure.

-- Overlap and competition between the Ministry for
Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Displaced and Affected
and the National Committee for the Reinsertion of Vulnerable
Populations needs to be resolved. The government would
prefer ending humanitarian assistance (which is channeled
through international implementing partners) in order to
receive direct infusions of development aid for rebuilding
the infrastructure.

-- UNHCR staffing in Burundi, particularly in the
sub-regional offices it intends to open, needs to be
strengthened. Neither the chief of mission in Bujumbura or
the officer setting up the sub-office in Ruyigi seemed firmly
in control of details or transmitted an urgency in moving the
agenda forward. By contrast, the head of Kibondo
sub-regional office in Tanzania portrayed an effective
management style, although she lamented that for long
stretches only one of a total of five international positions
were filled.

-- EC officers suggested tapping into unused resources from
Burundi accounts to fund repatriation efforts from Tanzania,
instead of UNHCR's current practices of cutting care and
maintenance for refugee camps to fund the logistics of the
return from the Tanzania account. During the Tanzania
portion of the trip delegation members saw the direct impact
of the redirection of "care and maintenance" funds to
repatriation: UNHCR has begun exploring once monthly food
distributions vice biweekly (which has a significant effect
on household economy leading to more food selling and less
food security).

j) Underscore importance of effectively managing
post-conflict developments in Burundi by the joint trip of
the top two donors

-- The joint mission met with top GoB officials dealing with
refugee issues including Francoise Ngendahayo, the Minister
for Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Displaced and
Affected people, and Frederick Banvuginyumvira, the President
of the National Committee for the Reinsertion of Vulnerable
Populations. At a dinner hosted by the EC ambassador, the
delegation was also able to discuss with the Minister of
Finance issues of concern (such as the policy change
requiring health officials to recover medical expenses with
returnees). In Ruyigi, the joint delegation met with the
provincial governor.

-- Furthermore, the joint mission had the opportunity to
brief the top Geneva-based UNHCR officer for Africa,
Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane, following their
field trip and convey impressions and recommendations. By
meeting and expressing concerns jointly to top governmental
and IO officials, the strength of the message had a
multiplying effect.

------------------------
GoB: Unable to meet needs
------------------------

5. (SBU) In a meeting with Ngendahayo on April 2, the
minister stated that life in Burundi may not be as good as
the refugees have it in Tanzania, "but at least they're free
and not herded into camps like animals." As proof she
pointed to the large numbers who are spontaneously and
voluntarily voting with their feet, even walking for three
days to reach home. She noted that while many humanitarian
organizations are in place, the infrastructure to help
returnees reintegrate into society is missing. Ngendahayo
stated that the government could not compete with NGOs and
churches in providing and rehabilitating shelter, but she
expressed concern that no uniform standards were being
followed by these organizations. She indicated this could
lead to future resentment. The minister briefly touched on
the idea of model villages as a solution to this problem.

6. (SBU) She also mentioned a fluctuating security situation,
which discourages returns. Ngendahayo stated that an
important objective of her ministry was to build the capacity
of "welcoming committees" in order to promote reconciliation
and peaceful coexistence. She lamented that many of those
born and/or reared in the politicized camps are fed a
continuous diet of hate, which she emphasized by breaking
into English and terming it "brain washing". She also
briefly touched on refugee resettlement activities out of the
camps, cautioning against criminals and others perpetrating
fraud (by claiming they are orphans, etc.). Regarding
elections and violence, Ngendahayo minimized the connection
between the two by explaining that the violence was connected
to change (i.e., independence in 1961, abolition of the
monarchy in 1965, end of a single-party political system in
1972, etc., and the subsequent settling of accounts in 1993),
not elections per se. She also minimized the effect that
refugees would have on the upcoming elections, noting that
those eligible to vote from the camps would only be about 3%
of Burundi's electoral population.
7. (SBU) Regarding relations with UNHCR, she said that after
a rocky start with disagreements over security in certain
regions, cooperation had greatly improved. She highlighted
the problem that UNHCR caused by describing how those
returning spontaneously were forced to ask military
commanders for food because UNHCR was not providing
assistance in phase four areas.

8. (SBU) In a separate meeting with the National Committee
for the Reinsertion of Vulnerable Populations, Bavuginyumvira
emphasized that in Burundi, creating a distinction between
humanitarian work and development was artificial because the
whole social infrastructure needed rehabilitation. He
suggested that the medical centers could be privatized to
improve services. Because returnees generally lacked housing
in their places of origin, he recommended that construction
tools and supplies such as nails and roofing be included in
reintegration kits. He also promoted the creation of model
villages, particularly for demobilized combatants arguing
"Who could refuse them?"

9. (SBU) Bavuginyumvira stated that 2,000 refugees were
returning each week to Ruyigi province, and that the total
number of returnees per week to Burundi was about 3,000. He
ventured that opening Makamba crossing on April 20 might
trigger a massive return. When asked about UNHCR,
Bavuginyumvira said that the agency needed more human
resources and material supplies. He also noted a problem
with payment of salaries, that Geneva was not sending funds
to pay its staff in-country.

------------------------
UNHCR: Responsive to Suggestions
------------------------

10. (SBU) On April 1, the joint mission met with UNHCR's
Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane to brief him on
their field visit and relay preliminary impressions. Major
points made by the EC and USG representatives included:

a) Obstacles to repatriation:
-- lingering ethnic divisions (with some refugees demanding a
50/50 ethnic composition of the armed forces);
-- fears that the elections might be the prelude to renewed
ethnic-based violence;
-- generalized banditry;
-- political pressure from rebel factions to not return (or
on the other hand, to do so -- one scenario for a massive
uncontrolled return) and;
-- lower levels of basic social services and education:

The joint delegation emphasized, nonetheless, there was a
general will to return, and those who were in sub-standard
returnee settlements still seemed to be satisfied they had
made the right decision in returning.

b) Repatriation logistics:
-- GoB is not transporting returnees from UNHCR drop off
points to places of origin as originally planned;
-- There may be a need to revisit composition of both food
and NFI return packets (as many need to walk up to 15 miles
to finally reach home) if transportation all the way to
returnees, homes cannot be realized;
-- There is an insufficient budget for repatriation in
Tanzania (which results in cut backs to care and maintenance
in the camps);
-- Benchmarks must be defined or made more explicit before
promoting returns, and;
-- A systematic plan to utilize the acquired skills of
returnees in rebuilding Burundi would be highly useful and
productive in the long run. Plugging in skilled returnees is
difficult because of their general reluctance to be made
known to local government officials in their areas of origin.

The joint delegation stated UNHCR deserved high marks for the
orderly return operation to date.

c) Staffing issues:
-- A serious need exists to improve coordination between
UNHCR staff in Tanzania and Burundi (including use of EC
funds for Burundi to pay for the repatriation logistics
instead of borrowing from the camp budgets);
-- Sub-regional offices in the provinces must be fully
staffed and made operational (for example, Ruyigi only had a
few temporary staff in place although its plan calls for a
dozen international officers and 30 local hires);
-- UNHCR must avoid bringing staff from other critical
regions with human resource deficits (one of the Ruyigi staff
on mission had come from Guinea), and;
-- UNHCR should set an example by having an ethnically
balanced local staff (all those employed by UNHCR in Ruyigi
were Tutsis).

11. (SBU) Morjane was receptive to all these points and said
they contained no surprises. He noted that because it was
unclear whether returns would continue at a slow, steady pace
or suddenly burst into a massive return, UNHCR would release
a supplemental budget for 2004/2005. Regarding promoting
returns, he said that there was no need to do so if the
current flows continued, that local authorities were not able
to absorb higher numbers of returnees. Morjane stated, "All
Burundi needs humanitarian assistance," and that need would
continue for the next ten years at least. He acknowledged
the benefits of a diversified staff but mentioned problems of
finding Hutus with necessary professional skills. McKeever
urged UNHCR to consider the skills acquired by refugees in
the camp when hiring local staff and devision community
programs in return areas.

12. (SBU) Stalmans mentioned that EuropeAid has not been
happy with the results of its pilot pledge of 25 million
euros for UNHCR for the repatriation and reintegration of
returnees. He said that not enough work was done to prepare
for the repatriation effort before people started
spontaneously and voluntarily returning and that UNHCR had
not provided adequate reports as to how the money was being
spent. (He noted that things were not much different in the
other pilot refugee program for Eritrea.) Morjane
acknowledged initial differences of opinion about the
security situation in the country, which led to a more
cautious approach by UNHCR than other parties had hoped for.
Morjane said that over half of the 11 million euros had
already been programmed and that the balance would be used
before the end of the year. He said that although UNHCR had
strengthened its dialogue with ECHO, it was evident that
similar measures needed to be taken with EuropeAid since it
had become a major funding partner of UNHCR.

13. (U) Morjane said he would be visiting many of the same
camps, resettlement sites and reception areas monitored by
the U.S.-EU joint mission. He hoped 2004 would be the year
for solutions in Africa, not just in Burundi, but also in
Angola, DRC, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Sudan. He
called the evolving refugee situation in Chad "the" emergency
for UNHCR at this time.

------------------------
ECHO Funding: Meeting Humanitarian Needs
------------------------

14. (U) ECHO's global plan for Burundi notes that the country
ranks 171 out of 175 on UNDP's human development index and
that over two-thirds of its citizens are undernourished.
Life expectancy has fallen from 53.8 years in 1992 to 40.9
years in 2001. Other indicators -- such as the number of
IDPs per total population, number of refugees to GDP per
capita, ODA/per capita (calculated by the OECD), children
under weight per age and child mortality rate (calculated by
UNICEF) -- predict that general humanitarian assistance will
be required for at least the next ten years in Burundi.
Thus, all envelopes coming from ECHO, EuropeAid and DG
Development will focus on bringing the country up to minimum
standards. The joint U.S.-EU monitoring trip also marked the
first time these three EC agencies traveled together and
should prove effective in encouraging a more systematic
application of EC funds so that the link between emergency
relief and longer-term goals are in place.

15. (U) ECHO,s latest funding decision of 15 million euros
for Burundi will cover an 18 month period beginning in
February 2004 and will be targeted to the following sectors:
food (33.3%), health (27.6%), water and sanitation (19.6%),
emergency relief and non-food items (6%), protection and
coordination (4%), psychosocial assistance (3%), and the
balance on other activities. These ECHO funds have been
earmarked as follows:

-- 11.85 million euros to assist with the reintegration of
returnees (both IDPs and refugees) and will be channeled
through ICRC, FAO, UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR, OCHA, WHO and other
NGO implementing partners;
-- 3 million euros to help international organizations like
ICRC, OCHA, UNICEF and WHO carry out their specific mandates;
and,
-- 150,000 euros in technical assistance to facilitate
monitoring and evaluation by field staff.

16. (U) A separate decision by ECHO to support the refugee
camps in Tanzania provides 15 million euros for funding:

-- to operate and maintain 280 four wheel drive vehicles and
70 light trucks in order to improve access to the camps;
-- to improve the infrastructure in the camps, which includes
the registration of refugees, environmental protection,
community services, shelter and other non-food items;
-- to provide care and maintenance of the refugees, such as
health, nutrition and hygiene (especially vulnerable groups
such as children, breast-feeding mothers and HIV/AIDS
patients).

------------------------
EuropeAid Funding: Preparing for Repatriation and
Reintegration
------------------------

17. (U) Although ECHO funding for Burundi has fallen over the
past years -- down from 20 million euros in 2001 to 17.5
million euros in 2002 and 15 million euros in 2003 -- the EC
has made a political commitment to bolster the peace process
in the country by designating 25 million euros to prepare for
the repatriation, return and reintegration of refugees in the
region. Using development accounts administered by EuropeAid
(taken from the 7th and 8th European Development Funds),
UNHCR has been given a multi-year grant covering the period
2002-2004. UNHCR has used some of this money to rehabilitate
roads for the repatriation effort, as well as schools and
other infrastructure in refugee return areas. The remaining
11 million euros should be spent by UNHCR this year.

------------------------
DG DEV Funding: Linking Relief to Reconstruction
------------------------

18. (U) On September 9, 2003, the European Commission and GoB
signed the 9th European Development Fund, which is divided
into two envelopes:

-- 115 million euros in envelope A to be spent on rural
development (49%), good governance (15%) and macroeconomic
assistance (27%); and,
-- 57 million euros in envelope B for emerging needs, of
which 25 million euros has already been pledged to support
the Africa Mission in Burundi (AMIB) peacekeeping operation
coordinated by the AU. The AMIB mission will also help begin
the disarming, demobilization and reintegration of former
combatants, another "at risk" group with special needs.

19. (U) Because the general degradation of social services is
so widespread throughout the country, these EDF funds
programmed by DG Development will also be used in large part
to meet the needs of the returnees.

------------------------
Member State Funding: Supplementing EC efforts
------------------------

20. (U) In addition to EC funding, various EU Member States
maintain bilateral aid programs that provide significant
funds to help meet Burundi's needs. In 2003, EU Member
States contributed the following euro amounts:

-- Belgium: 3,260,417
-- Sweden: 1,830,000
-- Netherlands: 1,161,000
-- Germany: 1,607,000
-- Denmark: 390,765
-- France: 232,986
-- United Kingdom: 171,112
-- Spain: 150,000

------------------------
Comment
------------------------

21. (U) As a pilot endeavor, the joint monitoring trip to
Burundi and Tanzania was overwhelmingly positive -- both
substantively by addressing humanitarian needs and
politically by enhancing the transatlantic relationship.
Through joint travel to the field, relations between agencies
were strengthened and donor coordination improved.
Implementing partners also appreciated briefing multiple
agencies simultaneously, thus economizing on time and
resources which five separate visits would have required.
Before the joint mission had ended, the EC already suggested
a follow-on activity, either in the same region or a
different part of the world. ECHO and USEU have since
featured the joint trip on their websites.

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