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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05LAGOS1677
2005-10-27 12:13:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: LATRINE PROJECT AT ORU REFUGEE CAMP STALLS

Tags:   PREF  PREL  PGOV  CVIS  SMIG  NI 
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271213Z Oct 05
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001677 

SIPDIS

ABIDJAN FOR NICHOLAS HILGERT; ACCRA FOR NATHAN BLUHM; STATE
FOR PRM/AFR CAROL ANNE CHANG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL PGOV CVIS SMIG NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: LATRINE PROJECT AT ORU REFUGEE CAMP STALLS

REF: STATE 116436



1. Summary. Construction of latrines at the Oru Refugee
Camp has been delayed by about two months. Recent inspection
of the camp revealed the delays were caused by disagreements
on the use of refugee labor, disputes over location of
latrines, and a restructuring of the Nigerian Red Cross
(NRC). The NRC project, financed by the Ambassador's Fund
for Refugees (reftel), will remain stalled unless given an
external push. End Summary.



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


THE CAMP AND ITS INHABITANTS


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





2. On Wednesday, October 19, a Consulate officer visited Oru
Refugee Camp in Ogun State with UNHCR representatives. Oru
is home to 5,325 refugees, approximately 70 per cent from
Liberia. The camp consists of five main living areas, known
as J Block, IBB, Kabo Estates, Nairobi, and King's Villa,
each housing at least 400 people. Kabo Estates is comprised
of 72 mudbrick or wood-constructed homes, built with money
from the German government and housing anywhere from 10 to 20
people each. There is an eight-room school building, with
four of the rooms currently being used as living quarters.
Inhabitants partition the rooms with sheets and batik cloth
into at least four sections, with eight to ten people in each
section. A large town hall building houses over a hundred
stragglers. A large number of refugees have also constructed
makeshift housing around the main living areas. A steady
influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DROC) and Sudan may overcrowd the camp further. (Note.
Last year, an estimated 736 people from both countries sought
asylum in Nigeria, and this trend has not abated. End Note.)



3. One solitary well provides drinking water for all
residents. The residents complain diarrhea and other
illnesses are prevalent because of sub-standard water. The
clinic is small, providing only 5 beds not yet gender
separated, and the NRC has problems stocking the clinic with
medicine. The NRC has to wait for money transfers from the
UNHCR office to buy drugs, and these transfers are sometimes
irregular.



4. UNICEF is sponsoring a nutritional study of the camp.
The lead researcher, a University of Ibadan professor, told
us his preliminary results indicate rampant malnutrition.
The study was designed to focus on 600 mother/child pairs;
however, the researcher said he was having difficulties
identifying definitive biological matches. Mothers, he
explained, often leave the camp for economic reasons, and
entrust siblings, cousins, or even more distant relatives
with their children. So far, he has been able to get
approximately 150 mother/child pairs. A UNHCR program

officer along with the NCR representative complained that
refugees often sell part or all of their food allotments on
the open market.



5. The camp enjoys a large market area, which also provides
residents and visitors from the nearby town of Ijegbu Ode
with a soccer pitch and two night clubs. Camp residents have
begun a small computer school and have also created a small
fishpond where they farm catfish for sale. These refugee-run
businesses are thriving, and both the nightclubs and the
computer school are better maintained than the housing units.



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


REPATRIATION?


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





6. Of the many Liberians interviewed during the visit, not
one was committed to repatriation. UNHCR representatives say
the desire to resettle in the U.S. has kept many of the
occupants in the camp since 1990. Refugees do not believe
that the U.S. resettlement program has concluded. The UNHCR
is attempting to arrange repatriation for 500 refugees by
boat in November, but so far only 120 have volunteered. An
information officer from Liberia will visit the camp in late
October to convince refugees to return to Liberia.



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


THE LATRINE PROJECT


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





7. The over 5000 refugees at Oru do not have acceptable
toilet facilities. Of the approximately 15 existing
latrines, most do not work properly. The latrines themselves
are narrow stalls with either a hole in the ground or a hole
with a porcelain cover. Handicap toilets are created by
heaping cement blocks on top of these latrines and adding a
makeshift seat. Drainage pipes are buried in shallow ground,
and sewage seeps quickly up above the ground behind the
units. The NRC plans to build new latrine facilities for
four of the five housing units on the same model as the
current ones.



8. If current construction plans continue, one housing area
of 400 people will be left without a toilet. The Camp
Commandant, representing the GON on site, claims the
residents of that compound had not supplied a suitable
recommendation for where to locate the latrines. Many
refugees emerged during the visit to dispute the choice of
the four housing complexes to receive toilet access. In
addition, one refugee representative claimed the NRC and the
GON were not using refugee labor where possible and
underpaying when they do use it. The NRC has not yet
provided a list of bids or possible contractors for the
project, but an NRC representative gave assurances that
refugee labor would be used and properly paid. However, the
NRC representative stated that only 18 latrine stalls could
be built for the $20,000 as opposed to the 20 promised in the
original proposal.



9. The NRC has also had difficulties arranging for proper
financial controls over the $20,000 grant awarded reftel.
Their treasurer recently retired, and a realignment of top
officers ensued. It has been difficult for them to find a
replacement treasurer, and they have consequently not been
able to create a separate account through which to disburse
these funds and through which funds could be easily tracked.



10. A consulate official has met with UNHCR and NRC
representatives no fewer than 4 times to expedite the
construction of the latrines. Post will now broker a meeting
between the UNHCR and NRC to establish concrete deadlines for
identifying contractors and for breaking ground on the first
set of stalls. Compliance with these deadlines will be the
condition for final receipt of funds. In addition, Post will
send a consular officer to the camp to explain the
resettlement program, the reasons for its discontinuation,
and further reasons for repatriation to Liberia. Post notes
that a visit to the camp by one of the regional refugee
coordinators could be very helpful and instructive for the
refugee population.
BROWNE