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Cablegate: Goz Rejects Shelter Proposal For

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001489

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR B. NUELING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
DCHA/FFP FOR WELLER, MUTAMBA, PETERSEN
DCHA/OFDA FOR GOTTLIEB, PRATT, MENGHETTI, MARX
AFR/SA FOR LOKEN, COPSON, HIRSCH
EGAT FOR HOBGOOD, THOMPSON, HESS, MCGAHUEY,
GILL, RUSHIN-BELL, HURDUS
STATE/AF FOR NEULING, MOZENA
USUN FOR EMALY
NAIROBI FOR ESTES, DNIRANGO, PUTNAM
PRETORIA FOR SINK, DISKIN, HALE
ROME FOR FODAG FOR NEWBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR PREL PHUM US ZI
SUBJECT: GOZ REJECTS SHELTER PROPOSAL FOR
DISPLACED VICTIMS OF OPERATION MURAMBATSVINA

Ref: (a) Harare 1330 (b) Harare 1186

1. In a meeting on donor coordination on
Thursday, October 27th, the UN Resident
Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator,
Agostinho Zacarias, announced to the major
donors that the Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ)
has rejected the UN's proposal to provide
temporary shelter to families displaced by
the GOZ's Operation Murambatsvina (reftel
A). In a letter dated October 17th from the
Minister of Local Government, Chombo, the
GOZ told the UN Resident Representative that
there is no longer any compelling need to
provide temporary shelter as there is no
humanitarian crisis and the GOZ's Operation
Garikai has addressed the country's most
urgent shelter needs (reftel B).

2. Zacarias has been working with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the past
week to try and reverse this decision by
Minister Chombo. Zacarias reported that as
recently as last Friday he had received
positive signs from Foreign Affairs that it
would be able to reverse Chombo's decision.
In fact, Foreign Affairs promised Zacarias
last Friday that he would hear back within
forty-eight hours. As of yesterday, well
past Foreign Affairs' own forty-eight hour
deadline, the GOZ informed Zacarias that
Minister Chombo was out of town and the
issue would have to wait until next Monday.

3. Due to this lack of progress, Zacarias
stated that he has concluded that it is
necessary to put public pressure on the GOZ
in the hope that it will cause them to
reverse their decision. He has prepared a
draft press statement announcing that the
GOZ has decided not to accept from the
international community temporary shelter
assistance for the Operation Murambatsvina
victims, despite the fact that there are
still a large number of vulnerable groups
who were affected by this Operation and who
are living out in the open. He has reported
his conclusions to UN headquarters in New
York, forwarded his draft press statement
and requested guidance on how to proceed.
In his request for guidance, he has
specifically asked New York whether any
statement should be issued by the UN Office
in Zimbabwe or by UN headquarters.

4. When the floor was opened for
questions, the Ambassador asked Zacarias if
it would be helpful for the major donors to
issue a common, public statement in support
of the UN's position. Zacarias responded
that yes, the UN could use all the help it
could get on this issue. The British
Ambassador, European Commission Head of
Delegation and Dutch Charge d'Affaire agreed
with the Ambassador's suggestion of a common
donor statement.

5. Earlier on October 27, Agnes Asekenye-
Oonyu, UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Assistant
Director, gave the Ambassador and USAID
mission director the unvarnished version of
Zacarias's battles with the GOZ. She
reported that on October 26, Zacarias had
held a heated discussion with the Minister
of Foreign Affairs over inaction on the
issue, at which he had told the Minister
that the GOZ's intractability merited UN
Security Council discussion. She said
Zacarias had come away from the discussion
furious with the GOZ and he felt the time
for trying to cooperate with the GOZ was
over. He needed to try a new tactic,
resulting in the draft press statement.

6. Comment. While it comes as no surprise
that the GOZ is refusing to acknowledge the
humanitarian consequences of its disastrous
Operation Murambatsvina, or allow the
international community to address urgent
humanitarian needs, this development is
nonetheless tragic. The International
Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates
that roughly 20,000 families (perhaps as
many as 100,000 people) are in need of
temporary shelter due to the GOZ's
destruction of housing (reftel A). After
having spent four frustrating months trying,
and failing, to negotiate a humanitarian
response with the GOZ, Zacarias is correct
that now is the time to go public. We agree
with him that public statements must be made
to assign blame where blame is due: squarely
on the GOZ. The GOZ's refusal to allow the
international community to respond to urgent
humanitarian needs raises troubling
questions about humanitarian access and
protection that will not go away. We have
no reason to believe that the situation will
improve, so we must insist on defending
humanitarian principles and publicly press
the GOZ to grant unhindered access for the
international community to address
humanitarian needs.

7. Comment continued. Post recommends
that USUN engage with senior UN officials
(e.g., Undersecretaries Egeland and Gambari)
to express our strong support for the UN
issuing a statement that condemns the GOZ's
refusal to allow the international community
to provide temporary shelter to displaced
victims of Operation Murambatsvina. Once
the UN has issued its statement, it will be
important to work quickly on issuing a
common donor statement. To be most
effective, such a donor statement must
emphasize that the most important concern is
the need to assist the innocent victims of
Operation Murambatsvina. Equally important,
a donor statement must be framed to support
the UN in its defense of international
humanitarian principles. Finally, given
recent UN Security Council briefings on
Zimbabwe's humanitarian situation, post
believes that the GOZ's obstruction of
humanitarian assistance in this regard may
warrant an update to the UNSC.
DELL

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