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Cablegate: Refugee Update-Nearly 107,000 Drc Refugees in the Likouala

VZCZCXRO8759
OO RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHBZ #0017/01 0150833
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 150833Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0072
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0529
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0090
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0075
RUEHBZ/AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE 2114

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRAZZAVILLE 000017

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL PGOV UNHCR WFP CT CF CG
SUBJECT: REFUGEE UPDATE-NEARLY 107,000 DRC REFUGEES IN THE LIKOUALA
REGION OF CONGO-B

REF: A. A. 09 BRAZAVILLE 362 AND PREVIOUS
B. B. KINSHASA 026 AND PREVIOUS
C. C. 09 BANGUI 274 AND PREVIOUS

BRAZZAVILL 00000017 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) According to UNHCR Brazzaville, the number of displaced
in Congo-Brazzaville now totals 106,674. There are approximately
15,000 additional displaced persons in the Central African
Republic. Although the displaced population has grown by nearly
20,000 since the last report (REF A), anecdotal evidence from
the region indicates that the situation in the DRC has begun to
stabilize. UNHCR reports that artillery fire from the DRC Army
(FARDC) can no longer be heard in Congo-B and that the FARDC
have retaken control of Dongo and the other villages along the
DRC side of the Oubangui. According to UNHCR, FARDC has also
announced that they have captured the witch doctor rebel leader,
General Odjani. The American missionary hospital in Impfondo
confirms that there has been no fighting in their area since
December 31. Accurate reporting on the situation on the ground
in the DRC, however, is complicated by the fact that the UNHCR
has not been allowed to return to Dongo and the surrounding area
of the Equateur Province since late October 2009.

2. (U) Despite the improvements in the DRC, the humanitarian
situation on the ROC side of the river remains challenging. With
little prospect for a quick return to DRC, the relief effort is
beginning to focus on efforts to meet the mid to long term needs
of the displaced. Although the GROC still has not recognized the
displaced as refuges, they have begun to take the necessary
steps to meet their long term needs. On 12 January, the GROC
gave the final approval to move forward with the construction of
a "settlement center" in Betou allowing approximately 6,000
displaced persons to be relocated to a new area that will
greatly improve their living conditions. UNHCR says work on the
settlement will begin immediately and expects the new site to be
ready in two weeks. Additionally, the GROC recently authorized
the UNHCR to begin a formal registration process of the entire
displaced population. UNHCR plans to begin registration on
January 15 and expects the process to take about one month.

4. (U) The UN system is also making preparations for the mid and
long term needs of the displaced. In addition to the efforts of
UNHCR to relocate and register the displaced, the UNHCR has also
doubled the size of their staff in the region. Last week, UNICEF
shipped an additional 20 tons of supplies to the region which
included school kits recreation equipment for the children among
the displaced. After distributing an initial 455 tons of food to
meet the needs of the displaced between two and four weeks, the
WFP is now requesting an additional 11,020 tons of food (Note:
WFP based this request on an estimated population of 94k
displaced). Although there have been several recent press
reports stating that the UN has made an appeal for additional
funds from donors, no formal appeal has been made. Stephan Grieb
at UNHCR, however, says that a formal appeal should be expected
in the next two weeks. According to Grieb, scaling up operations
in this remote region has nearly exhausted available funds.

5. (U) Since the last report (REF A), the only announcements of
additional aid from the international community have been the
U.S. pledge of up to $4.6 million dollars of food for the World
Food Programme and 200,000 Euros from the French government for
food and non-food items following the French Foreign Minister's
visit to Brazzaville on January 8-9. The French have also
promised to fly two cargo plane rotations to help move supplies
to the region. Total international contributions to date are
summarized below:

Italy-300,000 Euro
European Union-2,000,000 Euro
France-200,000 Euro (+logistical support)
U.S.-up to 4,600,000 USD

6. (SBU) COMMENT: During the first weeks of this crisis, the
GROC seemed to hope that the displaced would quickly return
home. For the first two weeks of November, the GROC refused to
discuss any plans beyond the first 30 days of the crisis and
rumors circulated that the GROC was making plans to prevent
additional people from crossing into Congo-Brazzaville. As the
magnitude of the crisis has grown, however, the GROC appears to
have reached the conclusion that even if the FARDC restore order
in the DRC, it is increasingly unlikely that there will be a
quick return across the Oubangui. Many of the DRC refugees
actually fled when the FARDC arrived, and will likely wait until
the situation has been stable for some time before returning.
The GROC now considers the displaced to be refugees in
everything but name. The government continues to work closely
with the UN System to coordinate the relief effort and provide
security for the refugees. Now that the GROC has authorized a
formal registration, it seems likely that the GROC will formally

BRAZZAVILL 00000017 002.2 OF 002


recognize the displaced as refugees in the near future.
EASTHAM

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