Cablegate: Report Number Three On Interagency Policy Committee (Ipc)
DE RUEHLM #0931/01 2780932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050932Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0590
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7196
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 3960
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3336
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 8958
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 1922
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3753
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1305
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J3/J332/J52//
RHMFIUU/CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI//APCW/APOP//
UNCLAS COLOMBO 000931
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS AND PRM
STATE ALSO PASS TO USAID
AID/W FOR ANE/SCA
AID/W FOR DCHA/FFP FOR JDWORKEN, JBORNS
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA FOR ACONVERY, RTHAYER AND RKERR
BANGKOK FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA WBERGER
KATHMANDU FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA MROGERS AND POL SBERRY
USMISSION GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
USUN FOR ECOSOC DMERCADO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PREF PGOV PHUM MOPS ASEC CE
SUBJECT: REPORT NUMBER THREE ON INTERAGENCY POLICY COMMITTEE (IPC)
BENCHMARKS FOR SRI LANKA
REF: A) Colombo 753 B) State 69689 C) Colombo 691
D) Colombo 854
1. (SBU) This is the third of three monthly reports on the
Government of Sri Lanka's progress in meeting benchmarks, as
outlined in Ref B. With a policy dialogue more focused on freedom
of movement and issues associated with closed IDP camps, this report
is shorter than its predecessors and focused on changes since the
August report. Information is provided by UN and INGO partners.
The monsoonal rains for Vavuniya District (location of Manik Farm
closed IDP camp complex), predicted to start in October, have not
yet begun. Nonetheless, infrastructure improvements - primarily
drainage - continue apace in anticipation of heavy rains that could
last as long as three or four months. Citing continuing security
and safety (de-mining) concerns, the Government remains behind
schedule in relation to its predictions regarding early releases
from Manik Farm and other closed camps.
Frustration among the international community is growing, in light
of this slow progress and apparent unwillingness on the part of the
GSL to engage donors and implementing partners in a constructive,
strategic dialogue concerning de-mining, releases of IDPs to host
families or other options, and returns/resettlement of IDPs to their
homes of origin.
Over the past weeks, in an apparent effort by the GSL to show
progress in de-congesting Manik Farm and returning IDPs home, a new
issue has emerged: closed transit camps. In the short-term, many
predict that a normal or heavy monsoon season will cause major
disruptions in Manik Farm. In the medium to long term, it is
becoming increasingly apparent that returns/resettlement are likely
to take at least two years to complete, given the current slow pace
in opening the Vanni to de-mining and reconstruction work.
2. (SBU) ENSURING LIVEABLE CONDITIONS IN IDP CAMPS
a. Benchmark: Acute humanitarian needs are met with dignity. Key
areas are food, water/sanitation, health, shelter, and protection.
Status: Acute humanitarian needs are being met, although some
sectors are not up to SPHERE's standards. In Manik Farm, the major
focus is on building drainage works to drain anticipated heavy rains
during the October - January monsoon season. However, an oft-heard
opinion among the international community is that these prophylactic
measures will be insufficient in the event of severe weather. In a
recent press release, a UNHCR official stated: "Additional efforts
are urgently needed to decongest overcrowded camps, particularly as
the monsoon season approaches. The rains will lead to flooding of
low lying areas of the camps, causing further deterioration of
living conditions and posing possible threats to IDPs' health and
safety." The UN has advised the GSL that, in the event of a
large-scale natural disaster such as a cyclone, the Sri Lanka Army
(SLA) will be the only organization able to respond, to move IDPs to
safety and to help with emergency services.
Food (WFP report). By September 10th, NGOs ran out of funds to
provide communal cooking and complementary rations. WFP now
distributes the basic, dry ration directly to all families in all
the zones of Manik Farm. Issues related to individual, family
cooking continue to be fire danger and access to fuel wood. The
Vavuniya NGO consortium undertook a food security vulnerability
assessment in September, identifying almost 60,000 people who are
considered vulnerable and in need of complementary food resources,
over and above the dry ration distribution. Two NGOs provide cooked
meals to the IDPs in the two staging areas of Vavuniya, before they
proceed to their districts of origin.
Water and Sanitation. UNICEF undertook a groundwater table survey
during September. In many areas of Manik Farm, it is predicted that
the water tables may rise several meters during the monsoon season,
possibly up to ground surface level. This will require
de-commissioning of latrines where inundation would otherwise spread
contamination. UNICEF predicts that up to 65,000 people will be
affected by rising groundwater, especially in Zones 1, 4, and 5 of
Manik Farm, and in a smaller IDP camp nearby. People in low-lying
areas of Manik Farm will be moved to tents vacated by IDP families
that have been released for returns/resettlement.
Health. As the Manik Farm complex expands to include Zones 6A, 6B,
7, and 8, additional health facilities - such as primary health care
centers - are being constructed. There continues to be a shortage
of trained medical staff to deal with IDP needs, with some people
having to wait several days for a routine consultation. In Zone 2
of Manik Farm, for example, there are five doctors for approximately
Shelter. Shelter maintenance activities, in preparation for the
monsoon season, are ongoing.
Protection. The major protection issues are concerned with closed
camps (and new, closed transit sites), the everyday limitations of
vulnerable groups (especially the elderly and handicapped), family
reunifications, and over-crowding. Protection work is constrained,
due to restrictions on interaction with IDPs. Generally, organized
meetings with IDPs, and assessments by international organizations
are not permitted by the SLA. A widely reported altercation between
IDPs and the military on September 26 resulted in weapons being
fired and civilians wounded.
b. Benchmark: The Sri Lankan Army is withdrawn to the external
periphery of camps and local police provide law and order within
Status: No change since last report.
c. Benchmark: Civilian government agents are placed in charge of
Status: Decision-making processes remain with the SLA, with most
decisions regarding camp management requiring the approval of
military authorities. IDP protests and demonstrations inside the
camps have been dealt with by military officers, instead of by
civilian police officers.
3. (SBU) ENSURING ACCESS TO INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDP)
a. Benchmark: If the GSL cannot provide adequate goods and
services within the camps, the GSL facilitates the provision of
donor-funded goods and services to meet humanitarian needs.
Status: No change since the last report. Access to existing,
closed camps (like Manik Farm) is improving, though some
case-by-case delays occur. The Human Rights Commission has limited
access to the IDP camps in Vavuniya, but better access in Pulmoddai.
Access for the UN to new transit sites is inconsistent, with some
sites (for example, in Trincomalee) totally restricted.
b. Benchmark: The GSL provides reasonable permission and access
for donors and implementing partners, such as the UNHCR, ICRC, and
NGOs, to monitor distribution of donor-funded goods, programs and
services in camps.
Status: No change since the last report. ICRC does not have access
to camps for IDPs or for LTTE ex-combatant surrenderees.
c. Benchmark: The GSL provides permission and access for
international organizations and implementing partners to address
Status: There is access for some protection agencies, though more
than short interviews with IDPs is difficult.
4. (SBU) FULLEST POSSIBLE REGISTRATION OF IDPs
a. Benchmark: The GSL completes a database of all IDPs and shares
the database with the United Nations.
Status: As of September 24, 174,000 people had been registered for
their IDP cards, and 120,000 cards had been printed.
b. Benchmark: ID cards and other documents are issued to IDPs with
safeguards to prevent corruption.
Status: Except for the number of IDP cards, no change since the
c. Benchmark: All possible family reunifications take place.
Status: No change since the last report.
5. (SBU) EFFECTIVE DISPOSITION OF COMBATANTS
a. Benchmark: Combatants are identified, disarmed, and separated
from the general IDP population.
Status: No change since the last report. The GSL continues to use
the excuse of ex-combatants in IDP camps as the primary reason for
not allowing freedom of movement. There are approximately 10,500
adult ex-combatants in 13 sites.
b. Benchmark: A formal process of demobilization, in line with
international commitments, is initiated.
Status: IOM is working with the Commissioner General for
Reconciliation and the Ministry of Justice to carry out a
socio-economic profiling of surrenderees in the 13 sites. So far,
neither IOM nor ICRC has been allowed access to any of these sites.
c. Benchmark: No new children are recruited and previous child
soldiers are identified, separated, and put into a UN program.
Status: There are 456 LTTE child surrenderees in Poothodam
Rehabilitation Center, in Vavuniya District. Of these, 454 have
been produced before the magistrate, and probation officers have
started compiling social inquiry reports. 98 boys and 100 girls
have begun formal education, in classes from Grade 8 through the A
levels. Play activities and counseling are ongoing within the
6. (SBU) RELEASE OF "NO-RISK" POPULATIONS
a. Benchmark: The GSL establishes criteria to define "no-risk"
IDPs, in addition to the elderly and disabled.
Status: No change since the last report.
b. Benchmark: Release of "no-risk" IDPs to host families and
communities continues at an acceptable pace (on track for 25% - 50%
by the end of calendar 2009).
Status: As of September 24, 7,835 people have been released from
camps to host families and elders' homes. The majority are elders,
people with learning disabilities, and other vulnerable groups.
7. (SBU) ESTABLISHING AN IDP RETURNS PROCESS
a. Benchmark: The GSL widely communicates a voluntary returns
strategy for the North, including for IDPs.
Status: The GSL continues to publicly forecast numbers of IDP
returnees far in excess of reality. To date, the GSL has not
coordinated with, or presented to, the international humanitarian
community a realistic returns strategy that includes timeframes,
numbers of people, and destinations (places of return).
b. Benchmark: The GSL begins voluntary returns to areas of high
Status: The GSL has not yet begun voluntary returns in significant
numbers. Between August 5 and September 28, 6,813 people have
returned to Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and
Ampara Districts. Between September 11-28, 3,358 people have been
released (most from Manik Farm) to their districts of origin, where
they have been detained in closed transit sites, due to security
clearance procedures in the districts of origin. Slowly, some of
these people are being allowed to leave the transit sites and return
home. Limited or no access to these transit sites is provided by
the GSL to the UN and other humanitarian agencies.
8. (SBU) CONDUCTING DEMINING ACTIVITIES
a. Benchmark: The GSL releases a mine action strategy for Mannar
and continues surveys for the remaining areas in the North by July
Status: The GSL has not released a comprehensive mine action
strategy for the North, citing ongoing security concerns in the
Vanni, especially in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts east of
the A-9 highway. However, there has been steady on-the-ground
progress by district mine action offices and Government agents in
issuing more de-mining tasks to mine action agencies, including the
four USG partners. This past week, one agency (Halo Trust) received
task orders to begin survey work in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, in
districts west of the A-9 highway. The U.S. Embassy is working with
its partners to develop work plans that will project de-mining work
(survey and minefield clearance) through July 2010.
b. Benchmark: Demining begins in support of areas of high priority
for IDP returns by August 15, 2009.
Status: Demining operations are underway in Jaffna, Mannar, and
Vavuniya Districts, and survey work is also being started in
Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts. The GSL is particularly
focused on the Rice Bowl in Mannar District, requesting that work be
completed by mid-October, in time for displaced people to return
home and begin paddy cultivation (to coincide with the start of the
monsoon season). Although it is assumed that all de-mining
operations are related to IDP returns/resettlement, the GSL does not
indicate - with each de-mining task order - how many people are to
be affected by completion of the work.
c. Benchmark: The GSL coordinates with international and local
demining organizations on surveys and mine removal efforts.
Status: Coordination is slowly improving at the field level. At
the national level - where all the major decisions are made (by the
Presidential Task Force) - there is no coordination between the GSL
and the international community. Meetings between the Task Force
and mine action agencies, and sometimes donors, are ad hoc. The
Task Force continues to press the international community for
equipment for SLA demining operations.
d. Benchmark: A public information/signage campaign is launched to
local communities in mine areas.
Status: UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education and
international and local NGOs to conduct mine risk education in
schools and IDP camps.