2002-09-15 16:10:00
Embassy Amman
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 005267 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2012


Classified By: CDA Greg Berry, per 1.5 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 005267



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2012


Classified By: CDA Greg Berry, per 1.5 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Humanitarian agencies in Jordan have
stepped up contingency planning efforts for a crisis in Iraq.
Estimated refugee flows (10,000 into Jordan over six months)
match those provided reftel, but UN sources admit that they
are based only on conjecture and, in fact, are purposely
conservative to bring estimated financial needs into a
reasonable range. IOM reports that current UN planning does
not include repatriation for the up-to 170,000 TCN's believed
to be in Iraq or the 250,000 guest workers throughout the
region. UN, ICRC and IFRC representatives warned separately
that there are no stockpiles of non-food relief supplies in
the region and that it would take two weeks to move resources
from other areas. ICRC and IFRC representatives in Jordan
(who support programs in Iraq) also warned that disruption of
the OFF program in Iraq would affect the entire nation's food
supply. They fear also that Iraq's already-weakened water
and sanitation systems are ill-equipped to handle new
hostilities or new population flows. Finally, worst-case
scenarios in Jordan include the possibility of new refugee
flows from the West Bank, a scenario UNRWA currently cannot
handle. End summary.

UNHCR: Worried about Lack of Regional Stockpiles and Thin
-------------- --------------

2. (C) As reported reftel, UNHCR has lead responsibility for
contingency planning in the region, and would be responsible
for its usual refugee registration and protection function
should a crisis begin in Iraq. Current UNHCR planning
reflects a likely initial refugee flow of 3,000 into Jordan,
with a total flow of 10,000 refugees over six months. (These
figures do not include the up-to 100,000 third-country
nationals that IOM believes may seek repatriation from Iraq
through Jordan. See para 7 for details.) However, UNHCR
Representative Sten Bronee admitted that these figures are
based only on conjecture and, in fact, are purposely
conservative to bring projected financial needs into a
reasonable range. Bronee said UNHCR's budget, submitted to

UNHCR/Geneva for inclusion in a region-wide humanitarian
action response plan, includes USD 90,000 to preposition
non-food supplies for the initial refugee flow, plus an
additional USD 385,000 to care for the 10,000 refugees
expected over six months. These figures were developed in
coordination with UNHCR's technical assessment team,
currently touring the region in an effort to finalize
projected contingency needs.

3. (C) UNHCR Inspector General Maureen Connelly, in Jordan
as part of a larger regional tour, told Charge September 10
that UNHCR currently has no/no stocks in the region, severely
hampering its ability to respond to a crisis. According to
Connelly, UNHCR lacks basics such as tents, blankets, cooking
kits, water purification kits, sanitation kits and vehicles
-- essential items that the UN cannot stockpile under current
limited funding. Connelly said she also is worried about the
ability of UNHCR's already thinly stretched staff to respond
to a crisis. Jordan Representative Bronee, for example, will
be in Sudan on a two-month mission, leaving the Senior
Protection Officer as the only full-time international
employee at UNHCR/Jordan.

4. (C) Connelly also told the Charge UNHCR is worried about
the GOJ's reluctance to engage in detailed planning
discussions with the UN. UNHCR/Jordan Representative Bronee
had told us earlier that planning discussions with the GOJ
are based on the GOJ's oft-stated public position that its
borders are closed. Bronee said that while he appreciates
the GOJ's difficult political position, its reluctance to
engage even in quiet, low-level discussions with the UN about
practicalities such as water supply or warehousing
capabilities is hampering the UN's planning efforts. Without
such discussions, UNHCR fears that it will face a scenario of
Iraqi refugees stranded in the desert without access to food,
shelter or water. (Comment: We are addressing this issue
with the GOJ.)

WFP: 13,000 Tons of Wheat on-Hand

5. (C) According to WFP Representative Marwan Kokash, the
World Food Program currently has 13,000 tons of wheat in its
Jordan warehouses. Of that amount, 4,000 tons are to be
turned over to the GOJ to replenish stocks lent to WFP when a
previous shipment was delayed. The remaining 9,000 tons will
be used in WFP's regular Jordan development programs and are
intended to keep these programs running through September

2003. In addition, WFP has contracted with ICRC to import
through Jordan 6,000 tons of wheat for the ICRC's West Bank
rural food distribution programs. ICRC Delegate Guy Mellet
told refcoord that ICRC contingency planning calls for
diversion of this wheat to Iraq, if necessary. The wheat is
scheduled to be distributed in the West Bank in November.
Mellet noted that the ICRC's 15 trucks and international
drivers, currently used for transportation of relief supplies
between Jordan and the West Bank, also could be diverted to
respond to a crisis in Iraq.

6. (C) Although WFP has some excess wheat stocks, Kokash
told refcoord WFP lacks the stocks of cooking oil and
enriched biscuits necessary to respond immediately to a
crisis. Kokash estimates that WFP would need 50 tons each of
cooking oil and enriched biscuits to respond to initial
refugee flows into Jordan, and has submitted these figures to
the UN-wide humanitarian action response plan. Kokash warned
that without these stocks, the UN will be unable to meet
refugees' food needs during the first two weeks of a crisis.

IOM: Preparing for 100,000 TCN's

7. (C) IOM Representative Georgette Hosche reports that
there are between 70,000 and 170,000 third-country nationals
(Egyptian, Sudanese and Palestinian) currently resident in
Iraq. IOM contingency planning calls for the repatriation of
up to 100,000 TCN's (mainly Egyptians) through Jordan, but
notes that up to 250,000 guest workers throughout the Middle
East may seek IOM assistance in returning home in the event
of hostilities in Iraq. IOM's contingency budget for
repatriations through Jordan calls for USD 1.9 million, a
figure that has not been included in the UN's humanitarian
action response plan. Hosche told refcoord that IOM also is
prepared to assist UNHCR in registration of refugees, if
needed. Hosche echoed UNHCR's concerns about the current
lack of coordination with the GOJ, noting that huge numbers
of TCN's could end up stuck in the desert without access to
food, shelter or water.

ICRC & IFRC: Worried about Stockpiles and Potential
Disruptions to OFF, Water System in Iraq
-------------- --------------

8. (C) In separate meetings with refcoord, Jordan-based ICRC
and IFRC officials expressed concern about their own lack of
stockpiles. Although the ICRC has "huge" warehousing
capacities in Amman, its regional administrative efforts
currently are focused on supporting relief activities in the
West Bank and Gaza -- some of which could be diverted to Iraq
(see para 6). However, ICRC Jordan Delegate Guy Mellet
reports that ICRC would have to airlift supplies from its
Kenya warehouses in order to meet non-food needs resulting
from hostilities in Iraq. According to IFRC Regional
Delegate Christer Aqvist, the Federation currently only has
25 percent of the non-food supplies it estimates would be
necessary to provide support to an initial flow of 100,000
displaced persons within Iraq. Without a stockpile of these
supplies (tents, blankets, cooking kits, medical supplies,
etc.),Aqvist predicted that the first two weeks of a crisis
would be a "disaster." Aqvist noted that the IFRC had
submitted a USD 1.5 million Iraq emergency preparedness
proposal to the American Red Cross, but that the proposal had
been rejected.

9. (C) Both ICRC and IFRC expressed serious concern about
the Iraqi population's dependence on the Oil-for-Food program
and the serious implications of any disruption in the
program. IFRC Iraq Delegate Sten Swedlund (in Jordan for
IFRC meetings) told refcoord "the entire population" of Iraq
is dependent on the OFF program for its food supply. Any
disruption in OFF, Swedlund warned, could lead to serious
malnutrition problems. IFRC public health specialist Greet
DeVries characterized the Iraqis as a population "on the
edge" both physically and psychologically. As reported in
UNICEF's 2001 survey of children in Iraq, almost one-third of
children in the southern and central areas of Iraq suffer
from malnutrition and one in eight children in those areas
die before their fifth birthday. DeVries warned that any
disruption in the OFF program could cause the figures to
worsen still further. DeVries noted that no one she had met
during a recent month-long tour of Iraq had stockpiled food
or water supplies in their homes.

10. (C) ICRC and IFRC also warned separately of the dangers
of disruptions to Iraq's water supplies. According to ICRC
Delegate Guy Mellet Iraq's water supply system fell into a
serious state of disrepair when the guest workers who
previously had maintained the system fled Iraq in 1990-1991.
Since then, the ICRC has maintained the system and IFRC has
tried to work through the Iraq Red Crescent Society to
educate Iraqis on the proper way to treat unclean water, yet
rates of fatal diarrhea have continued to rise in Iraq. In
order to manage the effects of any hostilities-inflicted
damage to the Iraq's water system, the IFRC believes an
immediate relief response would have to include jerry cans
with purification tablets. IFRC Iraq Delegate Swedlund is
especially concerned about water and sanitation capabilities
in northern Iraq. He said the infrastructure there, already
strained by population flows throughout the 1990s, cannot
handle new population flows without new resources.

UNRWA: Fears of a Two-Front Refugee Crisis

11. (C) Finally, UNRWA Jordan Field Director Bill Lee told
refcoord that relief agencies in Jordan are especially
concerned about the possibility of a two-front refugee
crisis, should Israeli policy or a new round of major
violence cause Palestinians to flee in significant numbers.
Lee reported that UNRWA, perpetually underfunded and
currently focused on emergency relief operations in the West
Bank and Gaza, does not have the capacity to respond to a new
Palestinian refugee flow into Jordan. Lee also expressed
doubt that the GOJ would allow new Palestinians into Jordan.


12. (C) We are engaging with the GOJ to make sure they are
addressing the possibility of movement of TCN's through
and/or refugees into Jordan, and are coordinating in a
low-key fashion with the appropriate international assistance
organizations to assess potential needs and available