Cablegate: Update On Usaid/Ofda-Funded Activities in East Timor

DE RUEHDT #0239/01 1770718
P 260718Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) DILI 0065, B) DILI --179




1. USAID/OFDA Bangkok-based Regional Advisor for Asia and the
Pacific (RA) traveled to East Timor June 4 - 7, 2007 to monitor
ongoing USAID/OFDA-funded emergency and mitigation programs, and
assess the humanitarian situation in Dili. Outbreaks of
violence continue to be a part of daily life in Dili, resulting
in the prolonged displacement of approximately 100,000 people.
There has been little positive change with regard to the
Internally Displaced Person's (IDP) crisis affecting the capital
city since the RA's last visit in February 2007. Of the
estimated 100,000 IDPs, approximately 30,000 are located in 45
camps in and around Dili, and the remaining 70,000 live with
host families in the districts outside of the capital. With no
realistic expectation that the IDP situation will change for the
better until sometime after the June 30 parliamentary elections,
relief organizations are currently planning to continue
providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced populations
through the end of December 2007. Since the outbreak of the
displacement crisis in May 2006, USAID/OFDA has obligated a
total of USD 1,970,836 in emergency funding, of which USD
995,241 has been programmed in FY 2007. USAID/OFDA implementing
partners include CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). End Summary.


General Situation Overview


2. It is assumed by most humanitarian actors in Dili that any
shift in the current IDP crisis will not occur until sometime
after the June 30, 2007 parliamentary elections. As it will
take time for the new government to organize itself, approve a
budget and, hopefully, agree on a policy for enhancing security
and addressing the IDP crisis, most implementing agencies are
planning to continue provision of humanitarian assistance
through December 2007. In line with this, USAID/OFDA is
currently in discussions with its two primary implementing
partners, CARE and CRS, to extend current emergency activities
in the IDP camps through September 2007 via no-cost extensions,
and potentially through December 2007 via small-scale cost

3. The sitting Government of East Timor (GOET) has done little
over the past five months to resolve the ongoing IDP crisis,
which has displaced some 100,000 people in and around Dili.
Back in February, it appeared as though the GOET's efforts to
move to a needs-based distribution of food and non-food items in
IDP camps were gaining momentum. Four months on, however,
targeted distribution of humanitarian assistance has yet to come
to fruition. Additionally, there has not been a formal
registration process in the IDP camps, and it is clear that
significant portions of those currently receiving relief
supplies are living with one foot in the camps and one foot in
their homes. Until the GOET puts in place a comprehensive
approach to resolving the current crisis, which addresses issues
such as security, conflict resolution, land rights, and high
unemployment amongst the 18 to 35 age bracket, to name a few, it
is unlikely that the IDPs will be interested in changing their
current status quo existence. What is nearly certain, however,
is that any such move towards IDP policy formulation and
implementation will not come until sometime after the June 30

4. While the May 2007 presidential election was relatively
violence-free, Dili continues to be plagued by sporadic clashes
between rival youth and martial arts gangs. The ongoing civil
unrest throughout the city is the primary reason given by IDPs
residing in camps for why they will not return to the homes from
which they have fled. Of the approximately 100,000 IDPs, 6,000
households, or around 30,000 people, have actually lost or had
their homes damaged as a result of the violence. Of this
figure, only 600 cases have been officially verified, according
to discussions with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

DILI 00000239 002 OF 005

5. For the approximately 70,000 IDPs who have not lost or had
their homes damaged, but continue to reside in camps or host
family situations, most list security, or lack there of, as the
primary reason why they refuse to return to their homes.
Without formal reconciliation processes and bolstered police
units visibly stationed in areas of continued violence, IDPs are
reluctant to leave the relative security of the camps.

6. While security may be stated as being the most pressing
concern amongst the IDP population, the reasons for their
remaining in camps or host family situations are more complex.
Land title and land rights are also at issue in many of the IDP
cases. It is estimated that significant numbers of the IDP
population do not hold proper title to the homes from which they
fled. In some cases, the homes of these former squatters, who
are now IDPs, have been taken over by new squatters, leaving the
IDP families with little recourse to reclaim the property.

7. With no registration in the camps having taken place to date,
and no real vulnerability assessment having been implemented,
there is currently no way to properly target relief assistance
in the camps or host family situations. As such, general
distribution of supplies continues. Some of the individual camp
managers have decided on their own to institute a registration
policy, primarily in order to track the comings and goings of
people residing in the camps, and this is helping to remove
ghost beneficiaries from distribution lists. However, it is
critical that both the GOET and the United Nations (UN) support
efforts to register IDPs and conduct vulnerability assessments
in order to properly target relief assistance and reduce the
chances that a dependency mentality will take hold amongst the


Humanitarian Situation


8. The 2007 Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for East Timor will be
complete as of the end of June 2007. To date, of the USD
16,578,930 requested in the CAP issued in January 2007,
appealing organizations have received USD 10,400,000. With the
IDP situation expected to continue through December 2007, a
second 2007 CAP is in the process of being drafted, with an
expected launch date of July 2007.

9. In discussions with some non-governmental organizations
implementing both emergency and longer-term development programs
in East Timor, concern was voiced that another CAP, if not
clearly focused on addressing the displacement crisis, may
inadvertently lead to the expansion of emergency humanitarian
interventions in lieu of addressing more chronic development
problems in East Timor. The concern with this is that such
humanitarian interventions, especially large-scale food aid
distribution and cash for work projects not properly targeted or
well designed, may break down traditional community volunteerism
and participation in community development programs, and lead to
an entitlement mentality amongst beneficiary villages. It would
be the position of USAID/OFDA that any continuation of
humanitarian assistance under a CAP be limited and appropriately
targeted to meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations
affected by the current displacement crisis, while more chronic
issues such as food insecurity, malnutrition and gaps in the
public health system, be addressed through appropriate
development interventions.

10. Many of the 100,000 IDPs have been in camps or host family
situations for more than a year now. The UNHCR tents provided
at the outset of the crisis are notionally designed to last
approximately six months. As such, the shelter situation in the
camps is beginning to deteriorate. According to the
International Organization for Migration (IOM), the GOET has
approximately 350 tents in reserve, and IOM currently has an
order in for 850 additional tents. As many of the tents
currently in use will need replacing in the near future, IOM
plans to request an additional 4,000 tents under the upcoming

11. In an effort to begin the process of reintegration and, in

DILI 00000239 003 OF 005

some cases, relocation, the GOET and NRC have partnered to
construct a total of 444 transitional shelter units in five
separate locations in and around Dili. Each transitional
shelter settlement consists of 16 square meter housing units,
each with a door, window and porch area, latrines, communal
kitchen space, with each household having access to an
individual hearth/cooking station, and adequate water points.
Per NRC, the goal is to limit the number of users per latrine to
approximate 10 to 15, or around two to three families (SPHERE
minimum standards are one latrine per 20 people). In the camp
visited by USAID/OFDA RA, there was adequate water/sanitation
facilities and space for creation of recreation areas and safe
spaces for children, though NRC needs to identify partner
agencies to manage such interventions.

12. Of the 444 units constructed to date, only 155 were occupied
as of June 7. The GOET has identified four existing IDP camps
as priority camps, which need to be emptied, with the current
residents either moving into transitional shelter units, or
returning to their homes. The targeted camps include, 1.
Hospital Camp; 2. Seaport Camp; 3. Obrigado Barracks Camp; and
4. Airport Camp. IDPs currently residing in the camps appear
reluctant to move to transitional shelter units. It was not
clear during the visit if and how the GOET has
announced/socialized policies related to how one qualifies for a
transitional housing unit. The current status of the
transitional housing situation, coupled with other less than
successful piecemeal attempts at enticing IDPs to leave their
current camps, such as providing qualifying households with
in-kind building materials, are examples of how the GOET's
efforts at resolving the IDP situation have been poorly planned,
coordinated and executed.

13. Service provision in the camps with regard to food
distribution, water and sanitation and health care continues to
meet the basic minimum needs of the IDPs, though as stated
previously in reftel A, the sanitation situation in most of the
camps falls short of meeting SPHERE minimum standards. In two
of the camps visited by RA, the water supply situation is
improving as UNICEF and the Department of Water and Sanitation
(DNAS) have been able to access the Dili city water system by
tapping into existing mainlines and channeling water to water
tanks in the camps - this was observed in the Cathedral camp and
the newly expanded Igreja Hosana camp. The UN World Food
Program (WFP) will complete its current round of food
distribution, providing one month's ration for 100,000
beneficiaries, by June 20. As of June 5, there had been no
formal decision made with regard to the continuation of general
food distributions beyond the current distribution.

14. Protection for IDPs residing in camps remains relatively
stable, with CARE and CRS having installed lighting in and
around latrine and wash areas, as well as having stationed gate
guards at some of camps located in more violence-prone areas.
RA was informed that most children in the camps continue to
attend schools, either their previous school, or those located
around the camps. Camp managers and NGOs leading Site Liaison
Support (SLS) have also focused attention on organizing games
and sporting events for children in the camps, and bringing
together youth from different camps to compete in various events
and hold dialogue on issues related to peace-building and


USAID/OFDA Partner Activities


16. In FY 2007, USAID/OFDA provided USD 361,102 and USD 434,139
in funding to CRS and CARE, respectively, to continue providing
support to IDP camps [Note: CRS' award will end on June 30, 2007
and CARE's award will end on July 31, 2007. End Note]. CRS is
presently providing SLS in six camps in Dili, serving a total of
8,087 IDPs, and CARE is serving approximately 10,000 IDPs in 13

17. During the month of May, CRS noted that there were influxes
of IDPs into their newest camp site, Igreja Hosana - the camp
was non-existent in March 2007, and now houses 472 IDPs. The
influxes continue to be associated with on-going security

DILI 00000239 004 OF 005

problems in Bairo Pite, Hudi Laran and Surik Mas. In addition
to the camps in Dili, CRS provides SLS for 12 camps in Baucau
District, serving a total of 2,089 IDPs. SLS in all camps
consist of serving as a liaison between indigenous camp managers
and relevant UN agencies and government departments responsible
for provision of sector specific services in the camps,
monitoring food aid distribution, undertaking minor repairs and
upkeep of water and sanitation facilities, raising the
foundations of tents, coordinating and facilitating activities
targeting children in the camps, facilitating the provision of
public health services through the Ministry of Health, promoting
safety and security amongst women and children IDPs, vector
control in camps, and distribution of non-food items.

19. In addition to the SLS, CARE and CRS continue to promote
dialogue and conflict mitigation activities within
conflict-affected areas of Dili. CRS currently works with 31
aldeias in Dili's Comoro District to promote peace-building and
conflict mitigation activities. During the month of May, CRS
facilitated more than seven events, which brought community
members together to assess the current situation vis a vis
neighborhood violence and its causes, discuss methods of
prejudice reduction and strategies for reintegration of IDPs,
and promote traditional approaches to reconciliation, such as
the Tarabandu ceremony. CRS also recently launched a new
peace-building activity, where it facilitated a dialogue between
more than 200 IDPs who fled from the Golgota aldeia and those
community members still residing in the neighborhood.

20. As mentioned previously, most relief organizations are
making arrangements to continue the provision of relief services
in IDP camps through year's end. Based on this, CARE and CRS
will seek to extend their existing programs, first through
no-cost extensions, and then through the submission of
cost-extension requests. CRS has recently submitted a no-cost
extension request, seeking to continue ongoing activities
through September 30, 2007, and CARE is anticipating submitting
such a request in the near future. Between now and September,
USAID/OFDA will consider the possibility of extending CARE's and
CRS' grants through December 2007 via very modest

21. UNICEF: In May 2007, USAID/OFDA provided UNICEF with USD
200,000 to undertake water and sanitation upgrades in camps for
which it assumes wat/san responsibility. As of June 5, UNICEF
had received 80 percent of the funding requested in their CAP
appeal, including USD 550,000 of the USD 770,000 it requested
for water and sanitation interventions. UNICEF is currently
providing water and sanitation services in 18 camps in Dili and
eight camps in Baucau. Funding received under the first 2007
CAP will likely enable UNICEF to continue service provision
through July 2007. In line with the general consensus that
emergency interventions will be required through December 2007,
UNICEF plans to request an additional USD 530,000 under the
forthcoming CAP to support the continued provision of water and
sanitation services. To its credit, UNICEF has been strongly
encouraging its GOET counterpart, DNAS, to take on more of the
service delivery and management burden. UNICEF confirmed that
the GOET has taken over most water trucking to camps in Baucau
District, is seeking longer-term solutions to ensuring water in
the Dili camps, such as tapping into the city water system, and
that it is in the process of assuming responsibility for
environmental sanitation services in most camps. However,
UNICEF stated that the GOET currently lacks the capacity to
independently upgrade and manage deteriorating water and
sanitation facilities in camps.


Way Forward


22. Without a concerted and coordinated policy aimed at
resolving the root causes of the current IDP crisis, the
situation in and around Dili will likely continue unabated for
some time to come. Realizing that little will change until the
new government is established and a budget has been approved,
IDPs currently residing in camps and host family situations
continue to play a waiting game to see what the future holds in
store for them, while relying on government and foreign donor

DILI 00000239 005 OF 005

subsidies to meet their basic needs. In order for the GOET to
stave off the creation of a permanent welfare situation,
formulation of a comprehensive policy that aims to both
facilitate the movement of IDPs out of camps, thereby beginning
the reintegration/resettlement process, and address underlying
security and conflict issues needs to be a leading priority of
any new government.

23. As a first step in beginning the process of
reintegration/resettlement, USAID/OFDA believes that it is
imperative for the GOET, the lead UN agencies, and the relevant
actors within the International Community in Dili to agree on
and institute a comprehensive registration policy that will lead
to the following: a) an accurate count of IDPs in camps and host
family situations; b) a readily updatable database that can
track the coming and going of IDPs for as long as the crisis
continues; c) data on IDPs in camps that will allow for a
vulnerability analysis, which will in turn support the move to
targeted distribution of relief supplies; and d) an accurate
count of the number of households qualifying as having a damaged
or destroyed home.

24. Towards this end, USAID/OFDA has held discussions with NRC
regarding the possible implementation of an IDP registration
process. NRC has received notional support from the GOET for
instituting a registration process, and will soon begin
coordinating a registration working group, which will provide a
forum for all relevant stakeholders to discuss and agree on a
comprehensive approach to the registration issue. NRC is
currently in the process of drafting a formal proposal for
consideration by USAID/OFDA, and is seeking to begin
registration-related activities shortly after the June 30
elections. While USAID/OFDA will seriously consider NRC's
proposal, it is too early to determine whether funding will be

25. By extending existing emergency programs through September
2007, and possibly through December 2007, USAID/OFDA
implementing partners will continue to meet the basic needs of
displaced populations in and around Dili in the short-term. In
an effort to kick-start longer-term reintegration and recovery
efforts, which should be supported by appropriate donors and
funding sources, USAID/OFDA will consider supporting efforts to
register IDPs, thereby allowing for the targeted distribution of
relief assistance based on proven needs and ideally facilitating
the transition of IDPs out of their current camps. To
successfully resolve the current displacement crisis, it will be
necessary for all stakeholders, GOET, UN, NGOs and donors, to
work closely together to formulate and implement a comprehensive
policy, which lays the foundation for reintegration/resettlement
by addressing security concerns, fostering peace-building and
reconciliation amongst conflict-affected communities, providing
opportunities to unemployed and disaffected youth, and ensuring
that appropriate solutions to current housing and land disputes
are reached. Without the institution of a holistic and
integrated policy approach to solving the current crisis, the
GOET's current piecemeal efforts to address the IDP crisis on a
sector by sector basis will have little success.

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