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Cablegate: Turkey: Got Positively Inclined to Us Request For

VZCZCXRO5063
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAK #0584/01 0731300
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141300Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1328
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0885
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0910
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 1629

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000584

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS, DEPT FOR PRM/A

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PHUM TU IZ
SUBJECT: TURKEY: GOT POSITIVELY INCLINED TO US REQUEST FOR
IRAQI REFUGEE PROCESSING, DESPITE SOME INITIAL HESITATION

1. SUMMARY: Turkish government officials are likely to make
a positive decision in response to the USG request to
resettle Iraqi refugees currently located in Turkey. They
expressed some initial hesitation, primarily because they
fear an increased influx of refugees from Iraq and elsewhere
in the region. We dispelled many of their misconceptions
about the USG program and will work closely with the GOT in
the weeks ahead to help facilitate a quick and favorable
formal decision. END SUMMARY.

2. On March 2, 2007, a U.S. delegation headed by Terry Rusch,
Director of Refugee Admissions for PRM, met with officials at
the Turkish Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior.
Rusch sought Turkish cooperation with U.S. plans to resettle
Iraqi refugees from Turkey to the U.S. in 2007. UNHCR
expects to refer up to 7,000 Iraqi refugees from the region
for resettlement in the U.S. during the first six to nine
months of 2007. We expect about 1,800 of these to come from
Turkey. However, Turkish authorities tell us that fewer than
800 Iraqi refugees are registered in Turkey right now. They
are concerned that higher estimates cast doubt on Turkish
border security and they believe increased international aid
to refugees in Turkey could attract a new influx of people
for whom Turkey is unprepared to provide asylum or
assistance. Rusch helped mitigate Turkish concerns by
explaining that the U.S. resettlement program focuses
exclusively on refugees already present here and in other of
Iraq's neighbor countries. She also noted that we will
simultaneously resettle an even larger number of Iraqi
refugees from Syria and Jordan.

3. PRM/A Director Rusch, Regional Refugee Coordinator
Doetsch, and Ankara Consul General made office calls at the
MFA and Ministry of Interior on March 2. The aim was to
provide additional details about the U.S. Refugee Admissions
Program (USRAP) and to gain Turkish government cooperation in
allowing the departure of USRAP-approved Iraqi refugees who
may not yet have registered with Turkish authorities. Under
current policy, Turkish authorities do not permit asylum
seekers to depart the country if they have not registered
properly at their port of entry. Since formal registration
means that asylum seekers cannot live in Istanbul or Ankara
and cannot work, many avoid registering. Additionally, some
asylum seekers who have tried to register in the "satellite
cities" where they are allowed to live have encountered
delays and backlog at local institutions.

4. MFA Head of Asylum and Migration Ulueren and Interior
Ministry Head of Foreigners' Police Terzioglu both took a
tough stance during the meetings. Ulueren initially pointed
out that the part of Iraq that borders Turkey - the northern,
Kurdish controlled provinces of Dohuk and Erbil - is
relatively stable, and he was skeptical that Arab Iraqi
refugees are entering Turkey across this border. He also
said that Turkey is under a heavy burden as a transit country
already, and worried that the U.S. resettlement program would
bring more Iraqi refugees to Turkey. Terzioglu expressed
concern at what he described as UNHCR's "inflated" estimates
of the number of Iraqi refugees already in Turkey and
suggested that a Turkey-based U.S. resettlement program would
attract yet more refugees to cross the border illegally.

5. Rusch reassured both Ulueren and Terzioglu that we have no
plans to bring in additional Iraqi refugees, noting that this
effort is aimed at refugees already in-country. Simultaneous
with the Turkey-based program, the U.S. will resettle much
larger numbers of Iraqi refugees from Syria, Jordan, and
other countries in the region. She emphasized that the U.S.
already resettles an average of 1,100 refugees out of Turkey
each year (mostly Iranian Ba'hais) and our existing
resettlement infrastructure through the International
Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) in Istanbul makes Turkey
a logical place to start resettling Iraqi refugees. In
total, resettlement of Iraqis, as currently envisioned, would
increase the number of individuals processed through ICMC in
Turkey by approximately 1500-2000 in 2007.

6. Rusch's interlocutors softened during the course of the
meetings. At the end of the MFA meeting, Ulueren asked for
written talking points that he will forward for a formal GOT
decision. At the Interior Ministry, Terzioglu agreed that
the MoI would review on a case-by-case basis those Iraqis in
Turkey who have been identified by UNHCR but not registered
with Turkish authorities.

7. We subsequently provided the following talking points
covered by PRM to Ulueren via note verbale:

ANKARA 00000584 002 OF 002

BEGIN TEXT OF NOTE VERBALE

-- Each year, the United States welcomes an average of 1,100
refugees from Turkish territory for resettlement in the U.S.
Most of these are Iranian Ba'hais while some are from
countries in Africa or Asia.

-- In 2007, we expect to resettle several hundred additional
Iraqi refugees from Turkish territory. At the same time, we
will not reduce the number of refugees from other
nationalities whom we resettle from Turkey.

-- Compared to some of Turkey's neighboring countries, the
number of Iraqi refugees in Turkey is relatively small.
However, because of our established resettlement
infrastructure through the International Catholic Migration
Commission (ICMC) in Istanbul, it is most logical for us to
focus our initial efforts on those refugees present in Turkey.

-- We plan to be able to begin the resettlement process for
300 Iraqi refugees from Turkey to the United States by June
2007. These are individuals who have already registered both
with UNHCR and with Turkish authorities, and who have been
identified by UNHCR and the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security as particularly vulnerable.

-- We hope to be able to resettle another several hundred to
one thousand Iraqi refugees from Turkey to the United States
before the end of the year.

-- Throughout this program, we will resettle only persons who
are already present on Turkish territory, and we will
cooperate closely with Turkish authorities to resolve any
issues of their legal status. We have no plans to move any
person or persons across any international borders for the
purpose of their resettlement from Turkey to the United
States.

-- During 2007 we will also begin resettling thousands of
vulnerable Iraqi refugees who are currently residing in other
countries in the region. We will resettle them directly from
the countries where they are currently residing. Meanwhile,
we will provide uniform humanitarian assistance to Iraqi
refugees of all ethnicities in all countries in the region
where they are residing.

END TEXT.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

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