This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 GENEVA 001037
INFO ADDRESSEES FOR REFUGEE OFFICERS/COORDINATORS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/20/2015 TAGS: PREF CD SU PHUM UNHCR SUBJECT: UNHCR STILL GRAPPLING WITH FUNDING AND POLICY ISSUES IN SUDAN AND CHAD
Classified By: DCM Lynn Cassel, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (SBU) Summary: In a meeting with U.S. Mission DCM and refugee officer, Director of UNHCR's Sudan unit Jean Marie Fakhouri highlighted funding and policy issues impacting its operations in Chad and Sudan. In Chad, he acknowledged that malnutrition had increased at some camps when rations had been reduced due to shortages from November to February, and stated that the Chad program will remain extremely expensive as sparse desert resources are depleted and the climate takes its toll on housing. In Darfur, he said that UNHCR is rapidly approaching the point where it will not be able to function because of financial constraints, and that the risk of humanitarian workers being targeted for violence has increased since passage of the Security Council resolution. In southern Sudan, he cautioned that donor-pooled funding turned over to the Humanitarian Coordinator was unsound management, and expressed concern that the Government of Sudan (GOS) or Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) could trigger large scale returns before the region was capable of absorbing them. End summary.
2. (C) On funding: Fakhouri said that at USD 46.7 million in earmarked contributions for 2005, UNHCR is in relatively good shape in Chad; however, it is facing critical funding shortfalls for its operations in Darfur and southern Sudan. Thus far, the Darfur appeal has only garnered USD 1.9 million from the UK and a promise of USD 450 thousand from Germany; UNHCR will have to shut down its Darfur activities if it does not receive additional funds. In the south, he reported that Acting High Commissioner (A/HC) Chamberlin has told Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) da Silva that if UNHCR does not get a fair share of donor funds made available to him, UNHCR will only be able to do transportation and return packages; other agencies will need to be held responsible for quick impact projects and community development programs which UNHCR typically incorporates into a repatriation effort.
3. (SBU) Funding, continued: Fakhouri sees the British (Benn) proposal for donors to pool funding which the Humanitarian Coordinator then distributes to UN agencies as fatally flawed, and is urging donors to proceed cautiously. UNHCR has received only 2.3 percent of funds turned over to the HC thus far, and received no funding when the HC distributed a Swedish contribution of USD 14.8 million for southern Sudan. (He contacted Sweden, which subsequently provided a direct donation to UNHCR of USD 1.5 million.) Fakhouri also notes that Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Jan Pronk has instructed all UN agencies to refrain from issuing appeals independently, thus tying UNHCR to a system which, thus far, has not responded to its needs. Fakhouri believes that Japan will support UNHCR activities in southern Sudan and is hopeful that the Czech republic, Spain and Nordic countries will also respond to the 2005 appeals. Mission officers noted that PRM was considering a contribution for southern Sudan, and could make another contribution to UNHCR protection activities in Darfur, depending on availability of funds and UNHCR's pending report on how it used the USD 1.35 million contribution in 2004. Fakhouri commented that, while other donor contributions are important, "without PRM, we won't make it."
4. (SBU) On the Chad budget for 2006: Despite a previous Lubbers decision to continue the Chad program as a Supplemental Budget (SB) request in 2006, the Acting High Commissioner has accepted donor arguments that the Chad program should be included in the Annual Budget (AB) in 2006. In addition, UNHCR intends to adhere to its self-imposed budget ceiling (USD 770 million) in 2006. Fakhouri anticipates a need in Chad of some USD 80 million for 2006, even under a best-case scenario. Mission officers suggested that the logical step would be to increase the 2006 ceiling by USD 80 million, i.e. from USD 770 million to USD 850 million. Fakhouri noted that this would be consistent with the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration Affairs' (PRM) long standing call for UNHCR to prepare needs-based budgets, but believes that UNHCR's corporate culture will insist on submitting a budget they believe they can balance. In order to stay within the ceiling, UNHCR will have to make substantial cuts in other country budgets to free up money for Chad, and also reduce the Chad budget. In the past, the High Commissioner had reduced SB's by 60 percent when incorporating them into the AB. "If we do that in Chad, people will die" Fakhouri concluded.
5. (C) On Darfur: Fakhouri believes that USG representatives in Sudan generally "look favorably" on UNHCR efforts there, and reports that they told visiting A/HC that they would like to see UNHCR become more active in Darfur. Mission noted that PRM had supported UNHCR protection activities for IDPs in Darfur in 2004, but that the 2005 reports and budgets suggested that it was increasingly involved in assistance activities which fall closer to the mandate of other agencies and funding sources. Fakhouri made the point that protection and assistance cannot be effectively separated, and argued that while other agencies were pouring resources into Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps, few (other than ICRC) were working in the villages and communities where UNHCR is assisting people who had stayed behind or returned.
6. (C) On Politics: Chad is an extremely fragile state and would collapse under the weight of a renewed refugee influx, Fakhouri said. The Government of Sudan, however, believes it is on solid ground because the international community has fired both barrels (sanctions and the ICC) without effect and "ten days later they walked away from Oslo with USD 4.5 billion." The GOS has also gained popular support in Khartoum and Darfur by stating that it will not extradite Sudanese for trial by the court.
7. (C) On security of humanitarian workers: Fakhouri, who is posted in Khartoum and understands some Arabic, has commented previously on the inflammatory rhetoric which has come from mosques and media over the issue of western interference in Sudanese affairs. He noted that, after the Security Council resolution passed, anti-UN sentiment in Darfur and Khartoum increased, and that those people "whose names are in the (ICC) envelope" now see little to lose in pursuing their own agendas. Fakhouri stated that evidence in the shooting of a DART team member last month indicates that it was a targeted ambush "intended to kill." However, he noted that while hostility to the UN and its implementing partners as well as the UK and France has grown, the U.S. had been largely exempt from the latest round of inflammatory language, presumably because of our position on referring cases to the ICC.
8. (SBU) On conditions in Chad: He is "saddened but not surprised" by the malnutrition issue in northern Chadian refugee camps, which Deputy High Commissioner Morjane had raised with him after Mission officers delivered a demarche on the issue. He acknowledged that multiple shortcomings had occurred and efforts were underway to resolve them. UNHCR Chad Desk Officer provided Mission officers with a draft field report which resulted from the demarche (FAXed to PRM). The cause of increased malnutrition at some camps is most likely program flaws, including ration shortages from November to February. The report states, however, that full rations have been re-established and other measures, including improved monitoring and NGO management, have been successfully implemented. Fakhouri predicted that expenses to maintain refugees in Chad in 2006 will remain high and possibly increase as water sources and firewood are depleted and the desert climate destroys tents and plastic sheeting. Replacement of tents, a constant quest for water, and distribution of cooking fuel will soon become necessary and will remain a factor as long as there are refugees in Chad.
9. (C) On southern Sudan: UNHCR mobilized an Emergency Response Team to work in southern Sudan, primarily Equatoria, to establish plans and facilities prior to the rainy season. During the rainy season (May-September), UNHCR will attempt to create conditions for the beginning of repatriation if it receives funding. The German parastatal NGO GTZ will serve as a logistics partner for project implementation. However, unexploded ordnance is a major concern which has yet to be addressed. He does not believe that large numbers of refugees or IDPs will choose to return at this time; however, he fears that a call by Garang for refugees to return would empty out Kenya's camps, and that "subtle pressures" by the GOS, such as bulldozing IDP camps near Khartoum, could also propel large numbers of people to a desolate South.
10. (SBU) On IDPs: Fakhouri offered somewhat contradictory but revealing views on UNHCR,s position on IDPs. He said that UNHCR's mandate interpretation regarding assistance and protection of IDPs has evolved beyond the position that UNHCR should restrict itself to populations which had crossed an international border. However, he stated that a collaborative approach to protection of IDPs will not work; there must be a lead agency with a clear mandate. He acknowledged that UNHCR needs to be more predictable in its IDP response, and that its "pick and choose" approach has, in the past, confused and at times angered both donors and other international organizations. He somewhat incongruously added that protection of IDPs by humanitarian agencies does not work, except in failed states, and "Sudan is not a failed state." He noted that the UNHCR activities in Darfur were focused on keeping standards of return high for both refugees and IDPs, a point which the A/HC and Director of International Protection have also made. "We will not accept a lowest common denominator approach to returns" he concluded.
11. (SBU) Comment: Because Fakhouri is regarded as a knowledgeable and astute observer of events and policies, this cable largely reports his statements as made. While other analysts may take strong issue with a number of points, his opinions could nonetheless be useful in formulating policy and funding decisions affecting not only UNHCR and refugees, but in the broader humanitarian and political context.
12. (U) Comment continued: Mission recommends that the Department consider Fakhouri's analysis on the manner in which UNHCR prepares and presents its 2006 budget, and inform both UNHCR and other donors of its position prior to the UNHCR donor consultations scheduled for May 18 and 19. End comment.