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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04ROME876
2004-03-05 10:47:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

WFP BOARD APPROVES SUDAN (ERITREAN REFUGEES)

Tags:   EAID  EAGR  AORC  PREF  KUNR  WFP  UNHCR 
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						UNCLAS  ROME 000876 

SIPDIS


FROM U.S. MISSION IN ROME

SENSITIVE

ASMARA FOR AMBASSADOR MCCONNELL AND USAID DIRECTOR CHEEMA
STATE FOR AS/PRM DEWEY, PRM/P, AF/E AND IO/EDA BEHREND AND
KOTOK
USAID FOR AA/DCHA WINTER, DCHA/FFP LANDIS, AFR/EA
USDA/FAS FOR CHAMBLISS/TILSWORTH/GAINOR
GENEVA FOR AMBASSADOR MOLEY, RMA LYNCH AND NKYLOH/USAID
USUN FOR AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE AND MLUTZ
BRUSSELS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS AND USAID/LERNER
NSC FOR JDWORKEN AND AFRICA DIRECTORATE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR AORC PREF KUNR WFP UNHCR
SUBJECT: WFP BOARD APPROVES SUDAN (ERITREAN REFUGEES)
PROTRACTED RELIEF AND RECOVERY OPERATION (PRRO) VALUED AT
U.S. DOLLARS (USD) 15.52 MILLION - 35,344 METRIC TONS

REF: (A) 02 ROME 04756

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
NOT SUITABLE FOR INTERNET POSTING.


-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (SBU) The WFP Executive Board, at its first regular
session (February 23-26), approved a Protracted Relief and
Recovery Operation for Sudan (Eritrean refugees). The
project 10122.1, entitled Food Assistance for Eritrean
Refugees, is for two years (April 2004 - March 2006) with a
total cost to WFP of USD 15.52 million. Beneficiaries are
estimated at 95,300 (April 2004 to December 2004) and 60,000
(January 2005 - March 2006). Over the life-of-project, WFP
will supply (subject to the availability of funds) a total
of 35,344 metric tons of food aid. The Netherlands raised
the concern that the Government of Eritrea is now reportedly
imposing internal travel restrictions on UN personnel, which
could impede their carrying out the UN's humanitarian
mission. WFP's regional manager Holdbrook Arthur will visit
Eritrea March 7-10 and inter alia would like to discuss this
matter with U.S. Embassy Asmara. End summary.



--------------------------


Background


--------------------------





2. (U) This is one of Africa's longest running refugee
situations, involving some 160,000 Eritreans, many of whom
fled to Sudan during the civil strife occurring under the
Mengistu regime and in some cases even earlier, during the
reign of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. In March
2001, Eritrea and Sudan agreed on an eventual repatriation.
However, following closure of the border between Sudan and
Eritrea in early October 2002, the UN was forced to halt the
on going repatriation efforts. In June 2003, the GOS and the
GOE (under the auspices of UNHCR) reached agreement on the
modalities of repatriation that led in turn to the
repatriation of 1,652 Eritreans prior to the recent onset of
rains. Approximately 95,300 UNHCR/WFP-assisted Eritrean
refugees still remain in Sudan, presently living in 8 camps
(consolidated from 20 camps previously in June 2003) located
in four states of eastern Sudan. Camp populations are as
follows: Kassala state (71,426); Gedaref (16,338); Wad
Madani (Gazira state), 1,280; Sennar state (2,244);
transfers from the closed camp of UM Sagata (approximately
3,500).



--------------------------



--------------------------


U.S. intervention in support of approval of the Sudan
(Eritrean refugees) PRRO


--------------------------



--------------------------





3. (U) Herewith the essence of the supportive U.S.
intervention:

-USDEL notes that since the May 2001 repatriation agreement,
some 47,000 Eritreans have returned home through UNHCR
convoys and another 58,000 have returned through their own

means - a total of 105,000 returnees.

-The UN position, which USDEL shares, is that the root

causes of the Eritrean refugee problem no longer exist, as
fundamental and durable changes have occurred with the end
of the 30-year-old war with Ethiopia in 1991, Eritrean
independence in 1993, and the Ethiopian-Eritrean cease-fire
agreement of June 2000.

-USDEL appreciates the comment of UN High Commissioner
Lubbers during his visit to Eritrea in November 2003 that:
"The return operation needs to go beyond crossing the
border." We note that Eritrea is one of four countries that
have been chosen by UNHCR for the pilot testing of a new
initiative "the 4Rs" - Repatriation, Reintegration,
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction - designed to create a
conducive environment to facilitate and sustain return.

-Finally, USDEL expects that the joint UNHCR-Government of
Sudan screening teams will remain fully operative in the
eastern regions of Kassala, Wad Madani (Gezira), Sennar and
Gedaref in order to further clarify and finalize: a) the
number of Eritreans still in need of international
protection; and b) the number applying to remain as
immigrants.



--------------------------



--------------------------


U.S. support to WFP's Sudan PRRO for Eritrean refugees


--------------------------



--------------------------





4. (U) Against the two previous PRROs (6189.0 and 10122.0
which cover the period May 2000-end April 2004), with a
combined requirement of USD 28.28 million (73,431 metric
tons), U.S. contributions are USD 10.14 million (26,845
metric tons). Japan is the second largest donor with a
contribution of USD 5.35 million (17,125 metric tons).



--------------------------


Other donor comments


--------------------------





5. (SBU) The Netherlands raised two critical issues: a) that
roughly a third of Eritrea's population is now classified as
food insecure, not a good omen for returning refugees; and
b) they understand that the Government of Eritrea is now
imposing internal travel restrictions on UN personnel which
could impede their carrying out the UN's humanitarian
mission.



6. (SBU) The Eritrean delegate (Eritrea is a member of the
Board) went into a lengthy and hard to follow rambling which
seemed to imply that the UN was being "punished" for not
being more active in persuading Ethiopia to accept the
demarcation suggested by an independent boundary commission,
which emanated from the Ethiopian-Eritrean peace deal
concluded in Algiers in 2002.



7. (SBU) Note. Without entering into detail, WFP regional
manager Holdbrook Arthur conveyed to US Mission privately
that there are some "difficulties." He personally had to
wait ten days for a visa. He will visit Eritrea March 7-10
and inter alia would like to discuss this matter with U.S.
Embassy Asmara. End note.



--------------------------


Executive Board approval


--------------------------





8. (U) The WFP Board approved the Protracted Relief and

Recovery Operation for Sudan (Eritrean refugees). The
project 10122.1, entitled Food Assistance for Eritrean
Refugees, is for two years (April 2004 - March 2006) with a
total cost to WFP of USD 15.52 million. Beneficiaries are
estimated at 95,300 (April 2004 to December 2004) and 60,000
(January 2005 - March 2006). Over the life-of-project, WFP
will supply (subject to the availability of funds) a total
of 35,344 metric tons of food aid. Hall


NNNN
2004ROME00876 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED