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Cablegate: Unhcr Worries Traditional Caseload Will Suffer Due

VZCZCXRO7738
RR RUEHAST RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2692 2521457
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081457Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9896
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE
RUCNRCC/REFUGEE COORDINATOR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 5197

UNCLAS MOSCOW 002692

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV PHUM RS
SUBJECT: UNHCR WORRIES TRADITIONAL CASELOAD WILL SUFFER DUE
TO DONORS' CAUCASUS EMPHASIS

1. (SBU) Summary: In a conversation with Refcoord, UNHCR
Russia's new Deputy Country Representative worried that
donors' focus on recent displacements in the Caucasus will
undermine the refugee agency's efforts to provide
life-sustaining support to its core caseload of urban
refugees. He agreed to consider organizing a donor mission,
suggested by Refcoord to encourage national aid agencies to
reexamine the needs of forced migrants living in Russia's big
cities. End summary.

UNHCR Russia Faces a Lean Season
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) Against the backdrop of South Ossetia's
post-conflict Russian-financed rejuvenation, UNHCR Deputy
Country Representative Olivier Mouquet on September 4
enumerated UNHCR financial problems he has encountered since
arriving in Moscow this summer:

-- The cost of medical services has risen 20 percent in
Russia in the past year, while strict Russian customs and
public health and sanitation regulations eliminate
international procurement as an alternative.

-- The rent on UNHCR's Moscow reception center (which is
separate from its administrative offices) is scheduled to
rise 15 percent as of December 1.

-- As of January 1, 2009, the RF will tax all UNHCR grants to
its implementing partners as though they were income, thus
decreasing their value by about 20 percent.

-- Across-the-board inflation and the weak dollar further
diminish the organization's spending power.

3. (SBU) Mouquet, whose last post was in Geneva, admits that
his former colleagues tease him for having gone from
penny-pinching headquarters suit to anxious field operative
warning of dire consequences should new funding not become
available. Back in Geneva, Mouquet had hoped to cut the
Russia office's urban caseload because it costs a lot of
money to help relatively few people. But now, he confessed,
he could see this would not be so easy, due to incredible
Russian growth rates and accompanying economic dislocations.
With little fat left to cut in his agency's assistance to
mandate refugees and asylum-seekers in Moscow and St.
Petersburg, Mouquet is considering decreasing the number of
houses UNHCR constructs for long-term IDPs in Ingushetia.
Donors tend to focus on the North Caucasus, but the Asians
and Africans who have fled their homelands to Russia's big
cities remain the refugee agency's core caseload, Mouquet
affirmed. He went on to ask whether PRM would consider
funding a second JPO for his office this year, primarily to
assist in reviewing mandate refugees' files for resubmission
to the FMS for refugee status determination. (Note: Any
long-term asylum seeker that Russia agrees now deserves
status is one less beneficiary for UNHCR's scarce assistance.
End note.)

4. (SBU) Refcoord pointed out that UNHCR Moscow has been less
aggressive in courting donors than other refugee agency
offices in the region and might benefit from inviting both
Moscow mission and capital foreign affairs staff to visit
urban refugees in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and possibly a
third city (such as Krasnodar or Rostov in the south) to
witness the dire conditions in which many Afghan, African,
and Asian forced migrants live. UNHCR protection and program
officers could then explain the country conditions that
stymie integration and suggest interventions for foreign
funding. Mouquet appeared not to have considered this
approach before and said he would take it up with colleagues.

5. (SBU) Comment: While the plight of Russia's urban
refugees and the old caseload of Caucasian displaced, who
continue to live in poverty and uncertainty, has been
overshadowed by the latest Caucasus crisis, there is a
continued role for U.S. support in resolving this caseload.
End comment.
BEYRLE

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