Cablegate: Refugees in Eastern Chad: A Look Ahead (Part I)

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


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OIC-00 OMB-00 NIMA-00 PA-00 GIWI-00 PRS-00 P-00
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IIP-00 SCRS-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 G-00 SAS-00
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E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Summary: Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
officers Margaret McKelvey (Director of the Africa Office)
and Hazel Reitz (Chad Program Officer and UNHCR liaison
officer) visited Chad from May 4 to 18 to conduct a periodic
review of progress of protection and assistance efforts for
Darfur refugees and to review PRM-supported programs of
international and non-governmental organizations. PRM TDYers
visited Djabal, Goz Amer, Oure Cassoni, Gaga, and Farchana
refugee camps. This is the second of three cables on the
visit. PRM officers found that there is no concerted effort
yet to adopt a common planning horizon among the humanitarian
players, the refugees, and the Chadians and recommends that
they adopt a common 2006-2007 planning horizon in order to
make economically rational programming choices. All partners
should be involved in a decision on a planning horizon.
UNHCR has contingency plans for up to 100,000 new arrivals,
but only about 10,000 surplus spots in camps identified at
present. UNHCR reports that Government of Sudan "soldiers"
are deployed all along the borders prevented any significant
new influxes of refugees into Chad. New arrivals will likely
be in bad shape. Planning efforts continue to be complicated
by the lack of qualified international and Chadian personnel.
End Summary.

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2. There is no concerted effort to adopt a common planning
horizon among the humanitarian players, the refugees, and the
Chadians. "C'est prevu" is a phrase heard commonly in
eastern Chad to indicate that something missing in the
overall humanitarian effort is planned specifically to be
done or foreseen for some future point. As recommended by
visiting FFPO Stan Stalla, it would be useful to adopt at
least a 2006-2007 planning horizon in order to make
economically rational programming choices. It is politically
very difficult for the Chadian Government and humanitarian
organizations to openly admit that Sudanese refugees may be
here for some time. There is no viable peace agreement on
Darfur in sight and many of the refugees have been shut out
of return to their places of origin as the result of deals
made among local authorities in Darfur. The Chadian National
Agency for Refugees (CNAR) agreed that the international
community and humanitarian organizations should plan on at
least three more years of having Darfur refugees in Chad.
UNHCR officials said at least two more years.

3. A planning horizon to 2007 would affect cost/benefit
choices on the promotion of tree planting, a move from water
tankering to gravity-fed water systems where possible,
assigning implementing partners to various locations and
sectors, and the degree to which to equip and train Chadian
gendarmes. Semi-permanent classrooms are under construction
in the ten "permanent" camps (i.e., not Oure Cassoni or Am
Nabak). UNICEF is still waiting for shipments of text books
from Sudan in order to ensure that students can maximally fit
back into the Sudanese system; in the meantime, students do
not have enough books and some teachers are looking for a
curriculum that is more appropriate to Darfur's political

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4. UNHCR has in train contingency plans for up to 100,000
new arrivals, but there are only about 10,000 surplus spots
in camps identified at present. Humanitarian workers
reported that Government of Sudan "soldiers" deployed all
along the borders are preventing any significant new influxes
of refugees into Chad. Meanwhile, refugees (and fighters),
humanitarian staff, and the African Union Mission in Sudan do
cross the border and report that the situation in Darfur is
insecure for the average civilian. Some refugee family
members cross back to Sudan Liberation
Movement/Army-controlled areas to find pasturage for their

5. For now, additional refugee flows will be accommodated at

Gaga, the newest refugee camp. Gaga is extremely well-laid
out and follows the long-ignored camp planning principle of
placing tents in circular arrangements for reasons of
community interaction and security. In a circular lay-out,
one has line of sight to all neighbors from one's tent and
with sufficiently wide "roads" in between blocs to act as
firebreaks. The transfer of new arrivals from the Breidjing
camp (i.e., those previously unregistered) to Gaga that Reitz
and McKelvey witnessed was a model of efficiency and
compassionate treatment of the refugees. They were trucked
the 60 kilometers to the new site. Africare, the new camp
manager, had arrived on site only April 20 and the transfers
began May 1. Tents up were up and trees that were not to be
cut marked with red paint. Oxfam was putting in sturdy
latrines (plastic sheeting but with metal frames and cement
slabs) to serve in the short term for refugees at the
standard ratio of 20 refugees per latrine. Gaga shows what
can be done when there is sufficient time to start a new camp.

6. The nutritional state of recent new arrivals/Chadians in
the wadi near Oure Cassoni and along the Sudan/Chad border
indicates severe food insecurity among the local Chadian
population and those arriving from Darfur. As high as 15%
severe acute malnutrition per an ACF (Action Contre la Faim)
survey of all under fives participating in the UNHCR
registration there (Reitz and McKelvey observed) -- see
septel -- indicates severe food insecurity among the local
Chadian population and those coming from Darfur.

7. Recommendations: Despite general agreement that there
may be no significant inflows in the near future, UNHCR
should continue to seek to be prepared. Contingency planning
should take into account the likelihood that any new arrivals
would be in desperate shape. Contingency planning should
also take into account internally-displaced Chadians (see
below) and involve all partners.

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8. The capacity of non-governmental (NGO) implementing
partners (IPs) and the present dearth of qualified Chadian
national staff in the refugee assistance effort remain
critical concerns that need to be addressed. The success of
the humanitarian effort in Chad will be highly dependent upon
placing humanitarian staff who are experienced, competent,
and willing to stay for at least a year (i.e., who have all
three characteristics). While UNHCR has largely "turned the
corner" on getting the right staff in place and has an expert
senior management team in N'Djamena and Abeche, the NGO IPs
largely have not. Intersos, International Rescue Committee
(IRC), COOPI (an Italian health organization) and IMC
(International Medical Corps), for example, have experienced
near total turnover of field staff in the past two months.
Christian Children's Fund (CCF), which is the only NGO with a
specific child protection expertise in the refugee operation,
has a near-perfect operational plan on paper and funding via
UNICEF, but still has only two staff in country. The number
of first-time-in-Africa/first-time-managing-a-pr ogram staff
is striking. UNICEF, WFP, and WHO all lag behind UNHCR in
getting longer-term staff in place, but WFP and UNICEF are
now in good shape.

9. Success will also depend on there being sufficient
numbers of NGO IPs to tackle the range of tasks/sectors. IRC
and Intersos in particular are overstretched by the range of
their responsibilities in the Oure Cassoni and Djabal/Goz
Amer camps. They will likely need to be relieved of some
responsibilities by bringing in other NGO IPs as previously
recommended by PRM with respect to IRC. Action Contre la
Faim will replace IRC in therapeutic feeding no later than
early July if all goes as planned. Though IRC has not yet
been informed, UNHCR (not to be shared with IRC) is thinking
about replacing it in the health sector with AHA (African
Humanitarian Action).

10. Africare has just started as camp manager of the new
Gaga Camp and will cover food distribution, environmental
concerns, and logistics as well as the initial construction
of camp infrastructure. MSF is beginning to talk, as it
often does at this stage of a refugee situation, of pulling

out of Chad now that the "emergency is over". Hopefully it
can be persuaded to remain longer; its health care facilities
in Farchana are excellent in terms of organization,
relatively comprehensive coverage (though not all elements of
EPI are in place for example), and cleanliness. Among the
"usual suspects" missing from the Chad scene is Save the
Children, which would be an excellent addition in terms of
child protection.

11. Further complicating the issue of IP quality and
capacity is the fact that all of the international
organizations and some bilateral donors are looking for IPs
at the same time. UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP are looking for IPs
to undertake programs for affected Chadians as well as for
refugees. Similarly, USAID/OFDA is looking for IPs for
projects for affected Chadians while ECHO is looking for IPs
to receive refugee funding. Even WHO is looking for partners
in data collection. Food for work projects in the Goz Beida
area, for example, are not up and running owing to a lack of
IPs, not/not to any lack of food.

12. All of the external humanitarian players lament the lack
of sufficient numbers of qualified Chadian nationals to fill
key roles in the relief structures. Moreover, many of the
Chadians employed come from "the South" rather than from the
refugee zone, which adds a further element of tension in
terms of intra-Chadian conflict. Incorporating Chadians is
not only important in terms of compensatory action for Chad's
welcome of the refugees but also will become increasingly
necessary as the expatriate presence inevitably declines over
time. Preparing for such a transition must begin now, with
efforts to build Chadian capacity that would also have
longer-term benefits to Chad, once the refugees have gone
home. The PRM-supported work that Catholic Relief Services
(CRS) is doing with the Chadian NGO SECADEV and that the
International Federation of Red Cross/Crescent Societies
(IFRC) is doing with the Chadian Red Cross are small steps.
(Comment: It is difficult to avoid the boom/bust cycle of
humanitarian work that comes with a new influx of refugees
when it comes to local organizations that need to staff up
quickly and focus their major energies on the new problem but
that find themselves with little financial or management
support for humanitarian work on behalf of the national
population once refugees leave. Both CRS and the IFRC are
aware of this pitfall. End Comment.)

13. In the area of nutritional monitoring, Reitz and
McKelvey discussed with UNHCR and UNICEF the possibility of
developing an inter-agency capacity to review the nutritional
situation across all camps on a standard and periodic (e.g.,
quarterly) basis to also allow for incorporating Chadians in
on-the-job training. Nutritionists and nurses from the
Chadian medical training facilities in Abeche and N'Djamena
could be included in an effort that would also include
technical assistance from the U.S. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) and some school of public health
(e.g., Columbia University which has specialized to a degree
in refugee health and in training U.S.-based students
therein). If successful, this could channel Chadian health
personnel into the refugee assistance effort as well as
increase the overall Chadian professional capacity for the
longer term.

14. Recommendations: The NGO consortia InterAction in
Washington and ICVA in Geneva should be challenged to help
develop a pool of qualified (French-speaking) personnel
available for placement in Chad rather than just having NGOs
rely upon personnel ads in the usual places. PRM should
discuss with International Organization for Migration (IOM)
whether its "migration for development"-type programs might
be able to produce some additional health care personnel from
"southern" francophone countries that may not normally feed
staff into NGOs without raiding of medical personnel from
other nations' health care systems. PRM should review with
CDC the possibility of sustained technical assistance for
nutritional surveillance.

15. Khartoum and Tripoli Minimize Considered.


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