Letter to the Deputy Special Representative for MONUSCO

March 4, 2013

Mr. Moustapha Soumaré
12, Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa, DRC

Dear Mr. Soumaré and Members of the HCT,

I would like to convey my deepest gratitude to you and your colleagues for your assistance and cooperation during Refugees International's recent assessment mission to the DRC. We were very impressed by the dedication and caliber of staff we met, and we are encouraged by the positive developments we witnessed.

Given the complexity of the Congolese environment, however, challenges still remain. Subsequent to our conversations with you and your counterparts in North Kivu (as well as discussions we had with NGOs, camp administrations, and displaced persons) we have made the following observations:

  • The current system of camp coordination supports only a very small portion of the displaced population in North Kivu, and has been ineffective in reaching displaced persons outside of official CCCM camps.
  • The humanitarian community in North Kivu has lost confidence in UNHCR's ability to cohesively lead camp coordination.
  • IOM's new role in coordinating spontaneous sites in North Kivu has considerable potential, but will require a renewed effort to improve coordination with the pre-existing CCCM Working Group and avoid creating parallel structures.
  • Camps and sites outside of North Kivu are currently being left out of camp coordination mechanisms.
  • Resource limitations and the inability to access funding have prevented camp coordinators and camp managers from providing the required levels of assistance.

Based on these conclusions, Refugees International strongly recommends the activation of a national-level CCCM cluster to jointly address the needs of displaced persons living in CCCM camps as well as those living in spontaneous settlements and with host families. To ensure that spontaneous sites are given equal priority, RI recommends that UNHCR and IOM co-lead the national cluster and work collaboratively to support displaced persons according to their needs and irrespective of their location. RI further recommends the creation of a Strategic Advisory Group to include government representatives, key UN agencies, and relevant NGO partners.

The activation of a joint, UNHCR-IOM co-led, national-level CCCM cluster would have the following benefits:

  • Spontaneous sites and host families would be treated with equal priority as official camps, allowing all beneficiaries to be considered based on vulnerability rather than status.
  • Camp coordination will have an advocate at the national level who can respond more rapidly to new population movements outside of North Kivu and who can give CCCM a voice in high-level policy meetings.
  • The cluster will have access to funds through subsequent Humanitarian Action Plans and pooled funding.
  • UNHCR and IOM will have the opportunity to work together and share expertise on camp coordination strategies, and can work collaboratively on approaches to new displacement and durable solutions.

RI recognizes that there are significant challenges to the implementation of this plan. Perhaps most notably, there is the question of whether IOM currently has the capacity to fulfill this type of national coordination role. For this plan to be successful, IOM must commit to executing its role as co-leader, and donors must provide IOM with the necessary financial resources.

Additionally, given that UNHCR typically holds responsibility for camp coordination in conflict zones, joint coordination will undoubtedly raise some concerns about mandate. RI believes that the priority right now should be rectifying what is currently a failed camp coordination system. If IOM is able to support UNHCR in its work and ensure that spontaneous sites and host families receive equal attention, then the question of mandate becomes a secondary issue.

RI will release its full report the week of March 25th, which will include more detailed explanations of these points as well as recommendations on other aspects of coordination and funding. Please do not hesitate to contact us in the meantime if you would like to discuss our findings, or would like to share information or opinions.

Kind regards,

Michel Gabaudan
President, Refugees International

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