Cablegate: Unhcr: Refugee Women and Project Profile

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. GENEVA 01605

B. GENEVA 01689

1. (U) SUMMARY: The Executive Committee (ExCom) of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held a
meeting of its "Standing Committee" June 28-30 to discuss
budget and program matters. This cable focuses on the High
Commissioner's Five Commitments to Refugee Women, Project
Profile, and other news from the June meeting. Others will
focus on budget matters and protection issues. UNHCR
presented papers on refugee women and on Project Profile
which generated lively debate. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ---
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (U) Marjon Kamara, Director of the Division of
Operational Support at UNHCR, briefed member states on the
implementation status of each of the five commitments, based
on information provided by field offices in their Standards
and Indicators reports. The five commitments are supported
by the age, gender and diversity mainstreaming strategy,
which has structured refugee participation at its core.
Delegations raised concern over the poor, late or lack of
reporting of some field offices and thus questioned the
accuracy of the resulting reports.

3. (U) With regard to Commitment 1 on women's participation,
Kamara described the increase on average in women's
membership in management committees, although gender parity
in both leadership positions and power in decision-making
processes has not been achieved in most camps. Kamara noted
that in order to strengthen their leadership skills and
literacy, women must work with men in a participatory
decision-making process. During the next two years, UNHCR,
in collaboration with partners, will focus on continuing the
development and adaptation of information packs and training
modules to promote the implementation of Security Council
Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Several
delegations, including USdel, highlighted the need for UNHCR
and its partners to play a proactive role in this process by
insisting on speaking to women on the committees and getting
their views. Kamara insisted this was occurring in focus
groups in which refugee women are asked about their proposals
for solutions.

4. (U) UNHCR expects Commitment 2, which calls for the
individual registration of women and men, to be fulfilled
progressively as Project Profile is expanded to all country
operations. For more information about Project Profile, see
the next section.

5. (U) With regard to Commitment 3, the development of
integrated, country-level strategies to address sexual- and
gender-based violence (SGBV), Kamara noted an average of 86
per cent follow-up to all identified cases among refugee
women. Kamara acknowledged that systemic problems existed
regarding exposure to SGBV and exploitation due to inadequate
assistance and the refugees' reliance on local justice
systems. UNHCR's focus is now on the expansion of the pool
of trainers to provide country-level training, establishment
of standard operating procedures and strengthening of
community-based prevention campaigns and responses. The
Canadian delegation raised concern that 17 per cent of SGBV
victims were not supported, but Kamara stated that regional
bureaus have gone back to the regions to understand the
reason and causes. In response to other questions, Kamara
also noted a "strengthening of synergy" between work on
gender and HIV/AIDS. In addition, Kamara stated that UNHCR
is incorporating the Five Priorities for Refugee Children
into its work, and that where UNHCR does have responsibility
for IDPs, the organization tries to pursue the same policies
with respect to SGBV.

6. (U) Kamara noted that UNHCR is doing the best in
fulfilling Commitment 4, relating to refugee women's
participation in the management and distribution of food.
Most reports show an average of 45 per cent or above in
women's participation in distribution.

7. (U) According to Kamara, Commitment 5, the provision of
sanitary materials, presents an enormous challenge and
remains &shamefully low8 in terms of progress. Field
offices report that resource limitations constrain their
ability to meet even life-saving needs, and this affects the
provision of non-food items as well, including sanitary
materials. UNHCR hopes that continuing dialogue with refugee
women will help to identify culturally sensitive and
effective methods to fulfill this commitment. Delegations
showed the most concern over the lack of progress in
fulfilling this commitment, and several delegates called for
increased accountability, awareness, and commitment to the
goals. Kamara noted the common concern with Commitment 5,
but responded that UNHCR has a specific budget-line with
regard to sanitary materials. Nevertheless, the U.S.
delegation maintained that it was unacceptable that
operations are forced to prioritize funding and are unable to
distribute 100 per cent of needed sanitary kits. USdel
insisted that donors should not be forced to earmark funding
in order to ensure compliance with UNHCR's own standards.

8. (U) Kamara also updated member states on Project Profile,
the global program to improve standards and methodologies in
order to provide better registration. DOS has integrated 95
new databases into this new system. Over 2 million refugees
and persons of concern have been recorded and registered, and
of those, 1 million people have photographs. UNHCR has
provided 28 operations with joint support in this area.

9. (U) In response to member state concerns, Kamara
acknowledged that capacity is often limited in UNHCR field
offices. Eleven operations have required UNHCR to contract
short-term expert consultations. However, Kamara noted that
UNHCR would try to maintain staffing requirements by focusing
on sustainability and process mainstreaming. In this effort,
UNHCR will strengthen its IT section in order to retain
capacity to oversee Project Profile and other IT components
in the field. UNHCR will also mainstream registration for
Project Profile in order to ensure sustainability.

10. (U) UNHCR has partnered with both NGOs and government
entities to implement its information campaign on
registration. These efforts include information-sharing with
refugees, but extend to monitoring assistance and
verification exercises to ensure that registration involves
the refugees themselves. UNHCR will also improve its
documentation as it plans to receive more detailed,
disaggregated data on populations. According to Kamara,
UNHCR also welcomes biometrics support from the Netherlands
because of continuing problems associated with recycling and
multiple registrations. However, many delegations raised
concern over confidentiality issues related to such data
collection and use.


11. (U) The 2004 Global Report was presented at the
beginning of the session to general praise. UNHCR is trying
to cut down separate bilateral donor reporting requirements
by incorporating the necessary information in the report.
Most concerns were reactions from nations who took offense to
UNHCR characterizations of their own regional or national
situations. USdel informed UNHCR about the need for
standardized country profiles and an increased focus on
gender and community issues in future reports.

12. (U) An interim report on protection will be conducted
five years after the adoption of The Agenda for Protection,
with many delegations calling for a standard format or
questionnaire. Other delegations suggested that member
states and UNHCR draft jointly an update to the agenda.

13. (U) UNHCR will focus its annual oral update to ECOSOC on
cooperation within and outside the United Nations system,
concentrating on its agreements with other UN agencies and
collaboration with NGOs/private sector organizations.

14. (U) At the end of the Standing Committee meeting,
Ecuadorian Ambassador Hernan Escudero Martinez Chairman of
the Executive Committee, stepped down as he is leaving
Geneva. Ambassador Juan Antonio Martibit of Chile was
nominated for the chairmanship by the Colombian delegation
and confirmed by acclamation.

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