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Cablegate: Usaid-Sponsored Workshop On Displaced

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E.O. 12958: N/A


1. SUMMARY: Representatives from Iraq's
Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM)
were among the 75 participants discussing the
considerable challenges in meeting the immediate and
long-term needs of Iraq's Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs) as well as the new complexities of a
burgeoning population of vulnerable Iraqis
returning from neighboring countries. In addition to
MoDM officials, other participants attending
the December 3 and 4 workshop in Amman, Jordan,
included representatives from USAID/Washington,
USAID/Iraq, the State Department, the
International Office for Migration (IOM), the
Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), key United
Nations (UN) agencies, international Non-
Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Regional NGOs,
Iraqi NGOs, civilian representatives from Iraq
Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs),
international donors, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan,
and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. In addition to
creating a forum for plenary discussions, the
workshop accomplished two major working
objectives: First, participants identified the
five priority areas requiring immediate attention
to allow the Government of Iraq to properly
prepare and respond to the needs of Iraq's
displaced; and second, participants
identified and prioritized specific
recommendations for consideration by MoDM to help
the Ministry increase its ability to coordinate the
various initiatives, programs, responses, and
resources required to assist Iraq's displaced
populations. END SUMMARY.

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2. According to the United Nations Assistance
Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), nearly 1.2 million
people have been displaced in Iraq since February
2006, adding to an existing caseload of more than
1.2 million. In addition, an estimated 2.2
million Iraqis have sought refuge in neighboring
countries, particularly in Jordan and Syria.
(Note: On 1 December 2007, UNAMI officially
began using a new organizational strategy called
the International Compact for Iraq (ICI) in place
of the former Cluster system. End Note)

3. Beginning in October 2007, several sources
including MoDM, reported that improved security
was among several reasons stated by some
displaced Iraqis to return home, especially to
Baghdad. Current estimates of the rates of
displacements, the numbers of returnees, and the
reasons for their return vary widely, as do
present response efforts and resources from
USAID, the military, the United Nations, and the
Government of Iraq.

4. As the U.S. Government's lead coordinator
on internal displacement, USAID has been
assisting Iraq's displaced and vulnerable
populations since 2003. To help ensure a
coherent response from the U.S. Government
and the international community, USAID works
closely with the U.S. Department of State and
other U.S. Government entities, U.N.
agencies, international organizations, NGOs,
host governments, and local institutions.

5. During its initial response, USAID provided
assistance to Iraq's displaced by providing
temporary shelter, non-food emergency items such
as blankets, hygiene kits, cooking stoves,
implemented water and sanitation
projects, temporary health care activities, and
short-term income generation projects among other

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interventions. Nevertheless, complexities
involving religion and tribal issues, insecurity,
personal and sectarian threats, and a large
military presence all combined to blur a
comprehensive or coordinated response. Current
USAID interpretation of the situation is that
priorities are less clear, objectives are less
understood, and an overarching agreement on
response or assistance policy unknown.

6. By November 2007, the size of Iraq's
displaced population and the complex factors
surrounding the displacement created additional
challenges for USAID including unanswered legal
and policy questions, program implementation
obstacles, security impediments and national
authority and capability questions.

7. It was under this increased concern and
understanding of the complexities affecting a
well-coordinated response to the Iraqi
displacement that the concept for the Amman
workshop was born. From the perspective of USAID,
the challenges presented by the unique nature and
current state of a longer-term Iraqi displacement
were not understood fully by the international
community at large, nor by the U.S. Government.

8. The confusion was further enhanced by a
heightened awareness of IDP issues among the
international media, from the United States
Congress, the State Department, USAID and many of
those working in Iraq including the military
forces, PRTs, United Nations, and others.
This sometimes-embellished attention created
incomplete reporting from diverse and unconfirmed
information sources, and created unnecessary
confusion, misperceptions, and misunderstandings.

IDP Workshop Conference

9. On December 3 and 4, USAID's Office of
Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), together with
USAID/Iraq, convened a workshop conference in
Amman, Jordan to better define the humanitarian
challenges posed by IDPs and returning families
in Iraq. The workshop's goals centered on a
better understanding of the displacement and the
current assistance efforts in response to the
displacement, identifying best practices and
possible new approaches for future assistance,
identifying gaps in current assistance delivery,
and improving the way that humanitarian
responders communicate and coordinate.

10. The event brought together 75 participants
from the U.S., Jordan, and Iraq who are working
on Iraq displacement issues, including
representatives from the MoDM, NGOs, U.N.
agencies, international organizations,
Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), PRTs, and
USAID. NGO representation included ACTED, CHF
International, Danish Refugee Council,
International Medical Corps, International Relief
and Development, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Mercy
Corps, Mercy Hands, NGO Coordination Committee in
Iraq (NCCI), People in Need, and Relief
International. U.N. Agencies were represented by
International Organization for Migration (IOM),
U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Assistance (OCHA), U.N. Development Program
(UNDP), U.N. - HABITAT, U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), U.N. Children's Fund
(UNICEF), U.N. Office for Project Services
(UNOPS), U.N. World Food Program (WFP), and U.N.
World Health Organization (WHO). In addition,

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representatives from the Iraq Red Crescent
Society and the International Committee of the
Red Cross participated in both days of the

11. The first day of the conference convened
several panel briefings, in which each of the
stakeholder groups provided an overview of their
activities in Iraq and identified challenges to
their work. Overarching themes included the need
for greater coordination among the various
stakeholders and better information sharing and
prioritization of issues. U.N. country team
members reported on short, medium, and long-term
plans for increased engagement in Iraq issues,
including an enhanced U.N. presence in Iraq.
Participants appreciated the presence and full
engagement of three representatives from MoDM,
including the deputy minister, which ensured that
conversations and suggestions could reach senior
Government of Iraq officials.

12. On the conference's second day, the MoDM
provided an overview of the Ministry's
activities, such as its central role as a
coordinating agency, the intra-governmental
communication process to recommend humanitarian
assistance projects for funding, and the MoDM
expanded role in coordinating humanitarian
activities following the 2006 displacement

13. Participants then divided into five working
groups to propose ways to improve the following:
coordination among humanitarian actors and with
the MoDM; information management; how
humanitarian actors can support specific, MoDM
identified needs; improved activity
implementation with provincial authorities; and
creating the humanitarian space needed for relief
workers. In closing the workshop, David Shearer,
U.N Deputy Special Representative of the
Secretary General in Iraq & Resident/Humanitarian

Coordinator for Iraq, noted that the United
Nations is implementing several measures to
improve coordination among humanitarian actors,
cooperation with the Government of Iraq (GOI),
communication between military and civilian
actors, synchronization among U.N. agencies to
collect, store, and analyze data, and increased
financing for humanitarian activities.

Workshop Recommendations

14. MoDM officials, U.N. representatives, and
NGO leaders stressed the need to continue
assisting MoDM to build capacity to coordinate,
communicate, and respond to emergencies.
Recognizing the need for more efficient
collection and dissemination of information,
participants recommended the development of clear
information management priorities, coordination
of cross-sectoral assessments, and the
establishment of clear, transparent lines of
communication. To address the challenges of
engaging local and provincial GOI officials (in
addition to national GOI representatives), the
conference attendees recommended that the PRTs
facilitate regular coordination meetings between
local institutions and local government
officials, including discussions with local
branches of the MoDM.

15. According to workshop participants,
coordination among the military, PRTs, GOI, U.N., and
NGOs was among the most difficult challenges
facing international aid workers in Iraq. In

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addition to increased coordination in Iraq,
participants also noted the eventual need to move
most coordination among humanitarian
organizations from Jordan to Iraq. Although PRT
and NGO representatives disagreed as to how using
military presence and participation in
humanitarian activities impacts the ability for
humanitarian actors to perform, all agreed on the
need for additional opportunities for dialogue,
increased civil-military coordination training,
and the development of mechanisms for ongoing
information sharing. (Note: USAID will release a
detailed report by the end of December on the
recommendations identified by the workshop
participants. End Note).


16. Returnees: Recent international media has
highlighted an increase in Iraqis returning to
places of origin. Conference participants
cautioned that diverse reports of return numbers
are not confirmed by the GOI and are not yet at
levels of concern. Moreover, there was consensus
that the relatively small number of returnees
should not force humanitarian responders to shift
focus away from current IDP caseloads, host
communities, and other vulnerable populations,
who continue to face emergency conditions. USAID
implementing partners will continue to monitor
IDP movement and refugee return and are prepared
to respond should increased returnee needs

17. USAID will also initiate necessary actions
to form a working coordination cell to serve as
the point of contact with MoDM to begin work on
the immediate recommendations suggested by
workshop participants and agreed to by the MoDM.
In addition, follow-up sessions to the workshop
will be organized in Baghdad to help assure
continuing momentum gained from the workshop
discussions. USAID has drafted a strategy for
return and reintegration, and in anticipation of
additional funding for continued USAID IDP
activities in 2008, will use the return strategy
to guide U.S. Government activities throughout
the next year.


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