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Cablegate: Sri Lanka - Dcha/Ffp Monitoring Report On Wfp

VZCZCXRO5292
OO RUEHBI RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #1680/01 3530355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 190355Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7381
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 3347
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 5765
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0602
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7589
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4187
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1664
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 4197
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 1233
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3293
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 8190
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 5765
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 0486
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J3/J332/J52//
RHMFIUU/CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI//APCW/APOP//
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2507

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 001680

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS AND PRM, MPITTOTI
STATE ALSO PASS TO USAID
AID/W FOR ANE/SA
AID/W FOR DCHA/FFP
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA KLUU, ACONVERY, RTHAYER, JNUTTALL,
HSHEPPARD, SBISWAS
KATHMANDU FOR DCHA/OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR WBERGER
BANGKOK FOR DCHA/OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR TDOLAN
USMISSION GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
KATHMANDU FOR OFDA WBERGER
USMISSION GENEVA FOR NKYLOH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PHUM PREF PINS CE
SUBJECT: Sri Lanka - DCHA/FFP Monitoring Report on WFP
Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation

REF: COLOMBO 12598

1. Summary: From November 25 to December 4, 2007
USAID/DCHA Food for Peace Officer (FFP/O) visited Sri
Lanka to monitor the UN World Food Program (WFP)
Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), which
receives U.S. Title II Emergency Assistance. FFP/O
visited multiple sites in the conflict affected district
of Vavuniya and discussed future funding possibilities
with the Mission and WFP.

2. FFP is supportive of the current WFP PRRO in Sri
Lanka, which addresses the acute needs of the conflict
affected persons. WFP reported that the rate at which
commodity is reaching the final beneficiary has improved;
however, as the security situation is constantly
changing, it is not known whether these improvements will
remain. Due to concerns over a possible major GSL
offensive against the LTTE in the North, WFP, along with
other UN agencies, has developed contingency plans to
respond to potential mass displacement. End Summary.

-----------
Background:
-----------

3. The WFP PRRO in Sri Lanka has been providing
assistance to over 1 million persons annually since 2005.
Per the WFP budget revision approved in October 2007, the
PRRO has been extended through December 2008 with
activities focused on displaced and conflict affected
persons through vulnerable group feeding, food for work,
mother child nutrition and food for education activities.

4. In FY07 USAID/DCHA/FFP in-kind contributions of wheat,
lentils and vegetable oil totaled USD 14 million. The
commodities are currently being used and WFP has reported
positive feedback regarding their consumption by
beneficiaries. FFP has recently made another contribution
in FY08 valued at USD 6 million which is estimated to
arrive in April FY08.

5. FFP was last in Sri Lanka for a monitoring trip in
July 2007 and produced cable Colombo 12598 for reference.

------------------------
Update on WFP Operation:
------------------------

6. WFP reported that the rate at which commodity is
reaching the final beneficiary in the conflict-affected
populations in northern and eastern Sri Lanka has
improved over the past 6 months with greater access and
fewer transport delays affecting WFP operations. However,
as the security situation is constantly changing, it is
not known whether these improvements will remain. The GSL
military imposed new restrictions on the movement of
goods and persons after multiple acts of violence in
Colombo and in Kilinochchi during the week of November

COLOMBO 00001680 002 OF 004


24-28. Examples include stopping the train line from
entering into Vavuniya, preventing civilians from re-
entry south through the checkpoint and adding further
checks in the Medawachchiya checkpoint.

7. The GSL has an arrangement with WFP to allow WFP
trucks that have specific seals to cross into the Vanni
(uncleared areas) without being opened and unloaded. To
date, this arrangement has succeeded in preventing the
trucks from being searched at the checkpoints but delays
still exist as the drivers and cabins are searched.
Private trucks that accompany WFP trucks carrying such
items as fuel must be completely unloaded and searched.
This process also applies to the private trucks hired by
the GSL carrying food commodities for humanitarian
relief. WFP states that the restrictions in movement
often make it difficult to monitor the final distribution
points in the Vanni. The GSL requires several days notice
for the approval of international staff to travel across
checkpoints and has recently shut down the Mannar
checkpoint completely, which means WFP must travel much
farther to get into the northern Mannar area. In
addition, WFP and INGOs report that national staff
continue to be harassed and intimidated by various armed
groups which further hampers the ability to monitor
operations. Government officials in Vavuniya reported
that the situation has improved dramatically in the last
three months in terms of security in the city, but INGOs
and the UN still report that such incidents occur
throughout the Vanni, especially in more rural settings.
As the local Government Agent in Vavuniya stated, ?until
the conflict is over and peace is restored, the support
of WFP and the UN is very necessary.?

8. The recent shelling by GSL security forces of the LTTE
Voice of Tigers transmitter station in Kilinochchi
damaged WFP offices and residences. While WFP staff did
not incur any injuries, the buildings were clearly marked
as UN property and as such, the UN has condemned this
action by the GSL.

9. The IDP registration process is functioning relatively
well; WFP is confident in the beneficiary numbers and
believes there is minimal double-counting. However, local
government agents in Vavuniya explained that IDPs must
cancel registration cards in one district before
receiving a new registration card from a new district and
this proved difficult for some who had to leave quickly
and are unable to return. This can prevent some
vulnerable persons from receiving humanitarian food for a
period of time.

10. Due to concerns over a possible major GSL offensive
against the LTTE in the North, WFP, along with other UN
agencies, has developed contingency plans to respond to
potential mass displacement. WFP is in the final stages
of building a regional hub with multiple large warehouses
and space for additional warehouses to be installed, if
needed, in Vavuniya. This will enable them to serve the

COLOMBO 00001680 003 OF 004


humanitarian food needs of an additional 100,000 IDPs
should a major offensive take place. This regional hub
is in addition to the warehouses in Vavuniya, which have
a capacity of 1000mt to serve the immediate area. In
addition to their own commodities, WFP stores and
transports food and non-food items for other UN agencies
and INGOs through their special operation 10539.0; these
warehouses also store commodities for Unicef, Danish
Relief Council and World Vision. The worst case
predictions by the local government estimate IDPs could
reach 300,000 in Vavuniya, however, due to the shelf
lives of food commodities; WFP cannot preposition stocks
for more than 100,000 additional IDPs.

11. While WFP and INGOs have reported that their
commodities have been used in specific cases in
particular districts for political reasons by local
government authorities, based on discussions with WFP in
Colombo and Vavuniya, these are very isolated instances
and do not occur in Vavuniya or most areas of the Vanni.

12. As rice is the primary commodity used in the WFP PRRO
in Sri Lanka, the current shortage of rice in country is
having an effect on the WFP distributions. The GSL has
been very hesitant to allow the importation of rice but
WFP has reported that they recently received permission
to import 3000mt of rice from Japan for humanitarian use
which will improve the pipeline. Multiple reasons for the
short supply are attributed in the media, discussions
with local government authorities and INGOs including: a
significant portion, up to forty percent, of the arable
land is located in the non-accessible area and was
therefore not planted; suppliers are facing high
transport and processing costs and have raised prices;
and suppliers are hoarding supply to maintain the
artificially high price. The next rice harvest in
January/February will alleviate some of the shortage
currently being faced. However, much of the rice is
planted in the northern LTTE controlled areas and in
order for WFP to procure it, the GSL requires they
transport the rice into southern Sri Lanka for
processing. This incurs additional costs as it is shipped
or trucked back into the North.

13. The partnership that WFP has with the GSL requires
the GSL to provide rations for IDPs from the previous
conflict and/or the Tsunami. WFP, in turn provides for
any IDPs displaced since August 2006. While the WFP
commodities are provided based on kilo/cal needed per
day, the GSL rations are based on pre-established funding
levels. This level was determined in 1995 and has not
been reassessed, so the amount of commodity it can
purchase has decreased. IDPs who receive this government
ration report that it does not buy enough food. WFP is in
discussions with the GSL to revisit the issue.

-----------

COLOMBO 00001680 004 OF 004


Conclusion:
-----------

14. FFP is supportive of the current WFP PRRO in Sri
Lanka that addresses the acute needs of the conflict
affected persons. As the conflict evolves, FFP will
remain in close contact with the Mission and WFP
regarding food aid related needs. FFP recommends future
discussions in collaboration with the Mission and WFP on
the development of the next WFP operation to begin
January 2009.
Blake

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